Agenda item

Executive Response to the Climate Emergency

To approve the cabinet’s response to the climate emergency resolution that was unanimously supported at the meeting of full council on 8 March 2019.


To approve the cabinet’s response to the zero carbon citizen’s assembly resolution that was passed by council at the meeting of full council on 12 July 2019.


The cabinet member environment, economy and skills introduced the report and highlighted three minor corrections as follows:

·         Both resolutions were passed unanimously by Council;

·         The y (upwards) axis of the graph at paragraph 13 of the report was incorrectly labelled and should read carbon dioxide in thousand tonnes;

·         The date of the climate emergency resolution in appendix 1 should read 8 March 2018.


In introducing the report, the cabinet member made the following key points:

·         the council recognised the active lobbying by many members of the public, in particular young people, and the strong emotions raised by this subject;

·         the council was prepared to adopt challenging new targets;

·         carbon emissions had already been reduced by over 40% against the 2008/9 baseline;

·         significant reductions in budgets over this period had been challenging but drives for efficiencies and changes in ways of working to reduce costs had also delivered environmental benefits;

·         the council had met its carbon target two years early but this did not mean that work would stop, initiatives both within and outside the council had been continuing since the climate emergency motion was passed in March 2019;

·         it had to be recognised that many homes and businesses in Herefordshire were not cash rich, programmes such as the warm homes programme had enabled investments;

·         every tonne of carbon saved would make a difference, even apparently small actions could have a ripple effect and become a large change;

·         the level of public support had been noted, working together would magnify the impact of council actions;

·         climate change appeared in many sections of the new corporate plan which was currently under consultation;

·         it was recognised that most changes would be neither quick or straightforward, some changes would only be possible as contracts came due for renewal;

·         Herefordshire would work with other councils to lobby for changes to the national framework that prevented the council from doing certain things.


In discussion of the item cabinet members noted that:

·         additional detail on planned actions would be provided as soon as possible;

·         the new policy would set out actions for the council and also seek to influence partners;

·         every aspect of the council’s operations would be considered through the lens of the climate emergency;

·         the council would also seek to learn from good practices elsewhere in the country and overseas;

·         this was an issue that cut across cabinet portfolios;

·         the voices of young people and their support for action on climate change had been heard.


Group leaders were invited to give the views of their political groups. It was noted that:

·         all groups were supportive of action to tackle climate change;

·         the cost of initiatives would have to be looked at carefully;

·         the commitment of young people was welcomed;

·         working with partners such as parish councils was very important;

·         the use of supplementary planning documents should be explored to work towards targets, the review of the core strategy would need to take account of the agreed response to the climate emergency motion;

·         the Energy from Waste plant was making a transformational contribution;

·         different ways of working would be fundamental, increasing flexible and home working would have an impact on the trips generated by coming and going of staff.


It was agreed that:


The executive’s response to the resolutions relating to the climate emergency passed by Council in March and July 2019 be agreed as detailed in Appendix 1.


The meeting adjourned between 2:58 and 3:09. Councillor Matthews left the meeting at this time.

Supporting documents: