Agenda item

Update from the Climate Change Task and Finish Group - 16 June 2020

Verbal Update from the Chair of the Climate Change Task & Finish Group, Councillor Dr Peter Moseley


The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations provided the Committee with an update from the recent meeting of the Climate Change Action Task and Finish Group. He noted that the Carbon Trust had been appointed to identify the potential work and areas of focus for the Council so they could address the proposed carbon footprint target set in September 2019 at Full Council.  Data had shown that the Council’s carbon footprint for the period 2018/19 had been calculated at 7,600tC02e.  This was calculated from 4 key emission categories; Fuel consumption (Council’s vehicle fleet); gas consumption (buildings); electricity consumption (buildings) and leased assets (such as leisure centres).  It was noted that just over 30% of the consumption emanated from Council buildings with a further 40% coming from leisure centres. 


The Council’s pledge in September 2019 had been to reduce the carbon footprint by at least 30% by 2030 with the aim to become net zero carbon as soon as viable before 2050. 


The Cabinet Member referred to the bold approach the Council had taken in calculating its emissions and including downstream carbon emissions such as leisure facilities in the total which did not have to be included. The aim of this approach was to help the Council show leadership by setting an example to other organisations and residents.


The initial focus had been on Council buildingsand identifying projects that would help contribute to achieving the carbon reduction target. The Committee was reminded that during the collation of data, focus had been channelled down and had concentrated mainly on buildings, water, waste, vehicles and business mileage as these areas had been identified as the main areas of highest output. As a result, three hot spots were identified: Council Buildings, the Council’s Fleet of vehicles and leisure centres.  It was noted that some changes had already taken place such as installing LED lighting in some Council offices. The decarbonisation work being undertaken by the national electricity grid had also been referred and would also help reduce the Council’s carbon footprint.


The following areas had been suggested as opportunities for the Council.


Scope 1

·       Gas consumption for heating both space and water in buildings

·       Council fleet fuel consumption


Scope 2

·       Electricity consumption in Council buildings


Scope 3

·       Energy, waste and water consumption from leased buildings such as leisure centres

·       Upstream emissions from natural gas, electricity and vehicle fuel

·       Business travel in non-Council vehicles

·       Third-party disposal and treatment of waste generated in Council controlled operations

·       Supply and subsequent treatment of water consumed by the Council’s operations


The Committee was reminded of the hard work ahead for the Council in tackling the climate emergency.  The significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the way the Council worked, had provided the Council with an opportunity to implement some changes that would reduce its carbon emissions. The Cabinet Member stated that caution was also needed due to the uncertainty of the situation and hoped to work closely with the Committee going forward.


Members commented on how useful the Task and Finish Group was and the significant impact the Carbon Trust report had on them. Discussion took place around releasing the Carbon Trust report in its current format to the public.  The Cabinet Member stressed that the Council aimed to publish the report formally shortly.


A Member raised concerns about the Committee receiving a verbal update on the work of the Task and Finish Group. The Chair told the Committee that while this was just a verbal update, further reports and recommendations from the Task and Finish Group would be brought to Committee. One Member commented that deadlines should be set for the Task and Finish Group so recommendations could be produced in a timely manner. In response, the Cabinet Member noted that the timeframes for the group came from the Council’s Climate Emergency declaration. Further discussion was around creating a report for the next meeting of the Committee that would outline the work completed by the Task and Finish Group. The Committee heard that the Task and Finish Group was still in the early stage of digesting the Council’s current climate footprint. The Cabinet Member reminded Members of the delays that Covid-19 had caused in the work of the Task and Finish Group.


The Committee also discussed areas of working where it would be difficult for the Council to have an impact on emissions such as planning policy. The Committee was eager to show leadership in these areas with a realistic understanding of the legal limitations that the Council had.


Further discussion took place on Members’ desire for greater consensus within the Lincolnshire waste partnership. One Member spoke of his belief that the County Council took the credit as the disposal authority while SKDC had the greater share of the expense as the collection authority. The Cabinet Member responded by suggesting that the Council was a proactive and strong voice that sought to build consensus and that he felt the Council did receive a fair share of credit within the partnership. The Committee was reminded of the Council’s proactive stance in respect of the food waste scheme. He also shared concerns around the difficulties of educating residents to dispose of their waste in a more environmentally friendly manner.


The Cabinet Member referred to the previously operated recycling credit scheme which had included a method of funding for education initiatives, but since it had been suspended education programmes were now short lived with limited impact.


A Member queried whether total emissions for the District were known as the emissions of the Council would only form a small part of that total. The Committee was told that total carbon emissions for the district were not known and the Council’s initial focus was to provide leadership through its experience of identifying and disseminating their findings to industries, organisations, residents and individuals.


The Cabinet Member expected the Task and Finish Group would, as part of its work, help develop potential projects that would be brought before this Committee for consideration and direction for officers to implement and complete. The projects would probably be pragmatic challenges that would tackle the Council’s overall carbon emissions which should impact positively on the climate in general. The Cabinet Member stressed that while Covid-19 had provided opportunities, it had also created challenges. With the nation moving into the recovery stage of the pandemic, the financial impact of the virus meant that the Council would need to take a measured response. The Cabinet Member reiterated his thoughts that officer resources should be focused on delivering the projects.


A Member commented on the opportunity in front of both the Committee and the Task and Finish Group.  It was coming up to a year since the declaration at Council in September 2019 of the climate emergency the Council faced, and it was hoped that the steps taken would soon be advertised. The Cabinet Member acknowledged that time had moved on and that work must progress.  He also noted that the Council should recognise and celebrate the work undertaken by the Task and Finish Group on its’ progress in identifying and measuring the Council’s impact in order to move on to the next stage.  If Covid-19 had not created substantial changes and challenges a lot more could have been achieved.



That a report on the work of the Task and Finish Group be brought to the next Committee meeting.