To consider the attached background report as an introduction to this item, followed by a presentation.
5.1 Lisa McCance (Director at Shared Intelligence) introduced the item, followed by a presentation from Rachel Brain (2030 Strategy Manager at Stroud District Council), Julian Atkins (Interim Countywide Climate Change Coordinator) and Simon Pickering (Co-Chair LEP Energy Sector Group). Members noted the following points:
· The item today was in two parts, the written report reflected a summary of work that was being done across the county on a broader climate change agenda and the data which had been remodelled to give an indication of green job growth as defined by the Low Carbon Renewable Energy Economy (LCREE). Recent establishment of Climate Leadership Gloucestershire (CLG) had enabled the county to agree four key objectives, as listed in the report. Below this, there were 10 core themes, one of which was for the economy.
· The data presented in the report had followed a methodology created by the Local Government Association’s work on LCREE to understand where the green job demand was coming from by sector.
· Gloucestershire had a higher baseline for these jobs than its neighbours (shown in Fig4) but its growth in percentage terms was not anticipated to be as high.
· In absolute growth terms, this growth was expected to come from low-carbon electricity, and in percentage terms, from low-carbon services, infrastructure, and low-emission sectors. This clearly showed potential sectors that it could be worth Gloucestershire engaging more or investing more in to make the most of that growth (Fig2).
· At a district level, Gloucester was expected to have the highest proportionate of jobs, which equated to some 9,000 job opportunities, and Tewkesbury the highest proportion of growth (Fig3).
5.2 Presentation – What does ‘Green’ mean?
· There were numerous national and international groupings of businesses with a target of becoming carbon neutral by a particular date. One of the largest being ‘Race to Zero’ who collectively now cover nearly 25% global CO2 emissions and over 50% GDP. Slide 6 outlined what a business committed to when declaring a Climate Emergency, with reconfiguration being one of the most important things they can change.
· Numerous of like businesses looking to go carbon zero were coming together and working out the actions they can take collectively such as, Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, for example which would then have a larger impact on other sectors and society.
· Slide 10 showed which organisation from within CLG was leading on which core theme.
· Slides 11 showed the regional context for Gloucestershire, its strengths, and challenges in respect of climate change. LEP research in terms of the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities for decarbonising Gloucestershire’s economy was shown on slides 12-13.
· The move towards a greener county had brought some ‘big ticket’ projects to date such as Eco Park, the Energy Park and the proposed STEP Fusion reactor. The Western Gateway has also signalled its intention to review tidal energy production in the Severn. However the county needs to consider how best to support the many small-medium businesses that exist in making the transition to net zero as well.
· Looking at Gloucestershire in a more local context, its challenges were around connectivity due to its mixed economic landscape and having a majority of SME businesses who may find that their scope 1 and 2 emissions (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources and indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company) were largely out of their control due to renting business space etc.
· On the flip side however, there were opportunities and potential in this rich and varied economy through locally established supply chains which made Gloucestershire’s businesses more resilient, building local wealth, fulfilling local needs, spreading the county’s assets through aspiration and reducing transport impacts.
· In Gloucestershire, the carbon challenges were therefore more likely to be addressed when we start to look at local economy, as this would lead to local wealth which then led to more investment.
· A green economy required us to think big but also think very small and local at the same time, because it is founded on how people live, work, consume and move around.
· Covid thought us a great deal about how local communities can quickly mobilise to address challenges of local delivery, lessons that need to remain as we move to tackle the carbon challenge.
· Council’s in Gloucestershire played a key role, not only in addressing the emissions they were directly responsible for, but also being outward looking, the way we work with businesses and shape the economy were equally important and the impact they could have on the county’s challenges.
5.3 It was queried where the biggest carbon reduction areas were within the presented themes, and therefore the priority areas to focus the county’s resource.
5.4 Members noted that Gloucestershire’s biggest emissions by far were from transport, followed by buildings (primarily domestic due to insulation and energy use), then agriculture and particularly cattle farming. The Committee noted that they had been invited to join Environment Scrutiny on 24 May 2022 to consider a presentation on transport decarbonisation for the county.
5.5 A member was surprised that at Figure 1 of the report, it was showing a minimal 5% increase in energy efficiency jobs, given that retrofitting homes was one of the biggest challenges. It was advised that the data presented at Figure 1 was a 2030-2050 timeframe, and the theory being that the energy efficiency elements would already be built into the regular day job of that sector by 2030.
5.6 A member questioned what could be done to try and promote and make Gloucestershire the place businesses wanted to come, to avoid being outperformed by larger towns and retain as much benefit of the green transition as possible.
5.7 It was noted that there were a number of things that would need to be considered, including how to best utilise inward investment into the county. Gloucestershire had to identify its strengths, be more aware of what its assets were, and start on the local changes, rather than just focusing on big projects. Businesses had begun to make decisions about who they brought from and sold to, based on green credentials. It was therefore the local council’s role to make it easy for green jobs to come to Gloucestershire and stay here, as well as attract individuals who were making these changes, resulting in the county being an all-round greener place to live and work.
5.8 The Committee noted that Gloucestershire was made up of predominantly smaller businesses who may suffer from not having enough time or resource to explore opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, with some feeling very lost and overwhelmed on where to start. For local authorities and councillors, it was more a role of facilitating and enabling, peer to peer learning was much more effective in this space.
5.9 It was advised that there were a number of initiatives already in existence to help businesses learn from their peers in the same sector. There was the Target 2030 project which offered technical, practical, and funding support, plus case study tools to learn from. There were a number of programmes available nationally, which provided online tools and national events etc. GFirst LEP and Business West ran various local events to bring businesses together in discussions. They also supported through the local Growth Hub network by providing general business support plus specialist advisers available on sustainability and behaviour change.
5.10 In addition, it was hoped that work streams resulting from the CLG discussions would act as path finders in this area, helping to connect businesses and residents to the help and resources available.
5.11 A member added that many small businesses in the county were simply trying to keep their business going and make ends meet, many did not have the finance to consider changes.
5.12 It was explained that the LEP tried to work closely with business network associations, but completely acknowledged that some businesses did not have these on their radar to begin with. The LEP would continue to try multiple channels but were considering more outreach work by the Growth Hub teams to work within the local communities as well.
5.13 GCC also had a small community engagement team within its sustainability department who had put together an engagement strategy for campaigns being published this year, primarily looking at reducing SUP etc.
ACTION Julian Atkins (share campaign details)