Portfolio Holder – Councillor Philip Smart
This report details a proposal to declare a Climate Emergency and commit to action to achieve carbon neutrality. Executive is asked to approve the recommendations.
26.1 Councillor P Smart introduced the report, explaining that ‘Climate Emergencies’ had been declared by a number of Councils to show their concern over the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s findings which recognise the adverse global impact of the changing climate. Councillor Smart explained that the decision to make the declaration was being brought to Executive to enable it to be taken quickly and to allow for action to be agreed.
26.2 Councillor Smart commented that declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ would only be the beginning of a large amount of work to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. A cross party working group would be created to draft a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. Councillor Smart explained some of the projects which the Council had already undertaken to reduce its carbon footprint and noted that the report proposed £100,000 per annum of capital expenditure to fund the plan, as well as £50,000 to fund officer support in developing the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.
26.3 In accordance with Standing Orders Part 3 Section 3 Paragraph 3.5, the following questions were asked:
Question 1 – Councillor Holmes
‘Why has the Executive not put forward this proposal as a declaration for the full Council which is the position taken by the other councils, including Suffolk County Council, mentioned in the Report, which have declared climate emergencies?’
26.4 Councillor Smart explained that it had been felt that the proposal needed action at the earliest opportunity and so rather than waiting for a debate at the next meeting of Council a report had been brought to Executive. Councillor Smart commented that the benefit of the report being considered by Executive was that resources could be allocated and stated that Ipswich was no less committed than other Councils.
Question 2 – Councillor Holmes
Can the Executive confirm that any Action Plan under this proposed Strategy will contain robust performance and monitoring procedures thereby avoiding the failures evident in other related strategies, for example in modal shift in transport or the Clean Air Strategy, which although promising change have achieved no measurable improvement or even seen declines in standards?
26.5 Councillor Smart confirmed that Performance and Monitoring would be an important part of the Action Plan.
Question 3 – Councillor Holmes
Given this Council’s commitment to building more social housing over the proposed plan period, should not the Executive now change its policy on construction standards and insist such housing is built to a zero or net zero carbon specification?
26.6 Councillor Smart noted that a similar question had been answered at the previous Executive meeting. Councillor Smart confirmed that the Council built homes to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes but that it couldn’t force other builders to do so. Councillor Smart commented that all options, such as this proposal, could be considered as part of the process of agreeing the Action Plan but noted that there would have to be some trade-offs about what was included in the Action Plan.
26.7 Councillor Fisher asked whether the target of Carbon Neutrality by 2030 covered the Council’s Wholly Owned Companies. Councillor Fisher commented that a number of the initiatives implemented elsewhere listed in paragraph 2.8 of the report had been suggested by Councillors previously and that the changes to garden waste collections did not help the Council to achieve its carbon neutral aspirations. Councillor Fisher also expressed concern that the declaration was being made at Executive rather than at Council.
26.8 Councillor Ellesmere explained that the target of Carbon Neutrality by 2030 covered the Council’s operations. Councillor Smart commented that it was important that only the Council’s operations and not those of, for example, Ipswich Buses Ltd, were included as this would mean that progress would be comparable with other district and borough authorities.
26.9 Councillor Smart noted that the changes to garden waste collections meant that Ipswich had the same arrangements as other councils in Suffolk, except that in Ipswich brown bins were collected for free. Councillor Smart noted that the cost of maintaining the previous arrangements were prohibitively high.
26.10 Councillor Fisher suggested that the new Upper Orwell Street (North) car park, discussed elsewhere on the agenda, be restricted to electric vehicles. Councillor Ellesmere explained that the car park was being opened to enable the development of a new school and that if it were to be restricted to electric vehicles the wider development would be unviable, but confirmed that there would be a suitable number of charging points in the car park. Councillor Ellesmere noted that the Council had more than doubled the number of public charging points in Ipswich when it had opened Crown Car Park and that it was the largest provider of electric vehicle charging points in Ipswich by a significant margin. Councillor Ellesmere commented that the provision of electric vehicle charging points needed to increase broadly in line with the number of electric vehicles on the roads.
26.11 Councillor Rudkin commented that the availability of the Upper Orwell Street (North) car park to petrol, diesel and LPG cars was important to ensure road safety near the new school, which she hoped would encourage people to travel there more sustainably.
26.12 Councillor Jones said that it was important that the Council was calling on the government to make resources available to help achieve climate neutrality, commenting that there needed to be huge investment in public transport and cycling infrastructure to break many people’s dependency on their cars.
26.13 Councillor Ellesmere commented that the Council had a good record on reducing its Carbon footprint and said that this report would allow for further significant improvements.
It was RESOLVED:
a) that Ipswich Borough Council declare a Climate Emergency and that the Council starts working towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Reason: To confirm its continued commitment to achieving a reduction in carbon emissions and delivering the aims of the Building A Better Ipswich 2017 Corporate Plan.
b) that Executive calls on the UK Government to provide guidance and the powers and resources to make carbon neutrality possible.
Reason: The government has a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, and support local authorities commitments to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible.
c) that a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan be developed, with a cross party working group and the necessary officer support to assist with investigative work, drafting the plan and the delivery of early projects. This plan was to be presented to Executive in June 2020.
Reason: To engage with all local stakeholders to formulate and agree a robust Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan that achieves carbon neutrality by 2030.
d) that financial provision of £50k be made in the 2019/20 financial year for the necessary officer support to develop a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.
Reason: To enable the costs for 2019/20 to be met.
e) that financial provision of £100k per annum of Capital Expenditure be made within the Medium Term Financial Plan in respect of the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, commencing in the 2020/21 financial year.
Reason: To facilitate effective budget planning.