The Committee to consider a report on the draft Climate Change Strategy and proposed engagement approach.
4.1 Peter Wiggins, Outcome Manager for Community Infrastructure, opened the item with a presentation which went through:
· The background of where the Climate Change strategy has emerged from;
· what the Council has already done and its achievements; and
· what the new strategy will cover and it’s timeline going forward.
4.2 The Committee were reminded that on May 15th 2019, the Council declared a Climate Change Emergency by passing motion 836. The main objectives of the motion were to reduce corporate carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2030, with the remaining being offset and creating a carbon neutral County by 2050, working with partners to secure an 80% reduction by 2030.
4.3 A graph was shown to illustrate for Gloucestershire’s emissions the original UK target under the Climate Change Act 2008 of an 80% reduction by 2050, the new national target of carbon neutral by 2050, and Gloucestershire’s new target of an 80% reduction by 2030. All trajectories are taken from a 2005 baseline figure.
4.4 A graph was then shown of the Council’s emission reduction performance against the 2006/07 baseline.
4.5 Members noted that the Council has been involved in climate change initiatives since 2005 with the Carbon Management Programme (CMP). The declared 10% emission reduction by 2010 was reached early and GCC had actually reached 12% by the target year.
4.6 Again in 2011, the CMP target was refreshed to a 60% emission reduction by 2020/21. Looking at the 2018 figures, GCC has already reached a 55% reduction and is therefore on target to reach 60% by 2020/21.
4.7 The Committee heard examples of the many energy-efficient changes the Council has made to date, including its £13.7m programme of LED street lighting across the County (50% reduction), and the Shire Hall refurbishment programme (57% reduction). Since the baseline 2006/7 figures, GCC has reduced its CO2 emissions from 26,820 (tonnes) to 12,060.
4.8 Members were then shown the proposed trajectory for reaching the 80% reduction by 2030 and ideas for how this may be reached. It was advised there was potential to look at additional office improvements, staff travel and renewable energy generation, for example.
4.9 Looking forward to the new Climate Change Strategy, members were advised this would be a 5 year rolling action plan, to include a review of the forthcoming year each time.
4.10 As part of the engagement on this the strategy’s development, there will be a questionnaire out to the public over the summer, to include questions on what the public considers needs to change, and what GCC can do to support these changes.
4.11 In addition the Committee heard an update from Gloucestershire’s Climate Change Summit on 21st May 2019. The outcomes and actions from this day included to:
· Develop an engagement plan, including setting up a Youth Climate Panel.
· Use the outcomes from the summit to develop a revised Climate Change Strategy for Gloucestershire and the council, for public consultation in the summer.
· Take the strategy to the Council’s Cabinet for approval following consultation.
· Feed the final strategy recommendations into Leadership Gloucestershire.
4.12 Members were advised the Youth Panel would be age 16-25, 5 representatives from each district and applications will be invited in July/August this year, with a view of having a first meeting in August/September.
4.13 The Committee noted the next steps following today’s scrutiny would be to produce a draft strategy by July, which will go out to consultation over the summer. The final draft strategy would then go to Cabinet in November, ready to meet the Council’s budget process in February 2020.
4.14 The presentation closed with a video called ‘The Story of Solutions’.
4.15 On opening out to the Committee for comments and questions, clarification was given that this item was not only an opportunity for scrutiny but also for members to put forward their own ideas for the development of the strategy.
4.16 A member highlighted things in Shire Hall that were still awaiting refurbishment such as windows in the meeting rooms and unclad walls. There was a request for an updated timeline of Shire Hall refurbishment programme to be circulated.
ACTION: PHILLIP WILLIAMS
4.17 The Committee requested that members be kept as up to date as possible on the strategy development, including any engagement opportunities for the public. As Councillors, members are well connected and would be a vital platform for keeping members of the public, district/town/parish council’s up-to-date and fully engaged in the development of the strategy.
4.18 It was noted many members were also district, town or parish Councillors as well and are already aware of brilliant projects happening within their divisions. It was highlighted by feeding back updates from the County; members may identify areas of possible co-ordination between the councils.
4.19 It was also noted that as one of the County’s biggest employers, there is an opportunity for well informed staff to spread the word and encourage feedback from their friends and family into the strategy.
4.20 A member commended the youth representation at the recent Climate Change Summit in Gloucestershire and was pleased to see the idea of a youth panel developing from the day. Members questioned how the selection process for the panel would be managed/advertised etc.
4.21 It was advised that the Council’s Communications team were driving the advertisement of the Panel, and there will be a keen push on maximising the use of social media. There is also an awareness of the potential need for external support with smart phone advertising etc.
4.22 Officers are also working closely with the Young Employees Network at the Council which will be a key engagement group going forward.
4.23 Members highlighted the need to take into account university students moving in and out of the County for studies and the importance of their engagement in the strategy.
4.24 Several members questioned whether setting the panel to 30 representatives was enough, considering the engagement of young people internationally on climate change. In response, officers advised they were mindful of the speed and capacity of finalising the panel over the summer. It was suggested that it may be best to not advertise a limited number to begin with and then review it once officers have seen the response rate.
4.25 A member highlighted that these sorts of discussions were taking place all over the Country within many other organisations and debates. They also commended Gloucestershire on its hard work up until this point, noting that this county is slightly ahead of the curve on its achievements already.
4.26 There was a discussion about the use of technology to reduce the need for business travel at GCC. Members were informed that there has been more investment in IT infrastructure such as highways teams implementing video conferencing around the county to avoid travelling to weekly meetings. There has also been the pool car system of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, which include electric, hybrid and petrol vehicles, introduced for staff to book out for meetings. There are some occupations where travel cannot be avoided such as social work; it just needs to be done in a smart way.
4.27 There was a question as to where Javelin Park fits into the metrics of GCC’s carbon footprint. Members heard that the Plant will eliminate methane which is given off from landfill which is 25 times more damaging than CO2. It will also produce electricity for 25,000 homes and collect metals to be reused. Officers urged they will continue to push the waste hierarchy so only the materials that cannot be recycled/reused anywhere else will end up in the Plant.
4.28 The Committee were advised that as the Plant is owned by Urbaser Balfour Beatty’s the emissions are associated to them, the electricity produced will be owned by GCC. The transport of waste to the plant is not yet accounted for in the Council’s footprint.
4.29 There was concern from the Committee that the video shown in the presentation wasn’t suitable to use going forward. Officers reassured members there were no plans to use the video as part of this project, it was simply shown to stimulate discussion. Members requested officers to look into the possibility of GCC making its own video.
4.30 A member questioned whether schools and libraries came within the Council’s emissions data. It was advised that only maintained schools and libraries would, academies have no requirement to submit such data to the Council or use the same energy suppliers.
4.31 Members commended officers efforts so far in this process, and also for the work done prior to the emergency declaration. It was highlighted how positive it was to see Gloucestershire continuing to lead on these efforts.