Agenda item


To consider the attached report.


4.1       The Chair invited Kelly Osbourne, Sustainability and Engagement Officer, to introduce the fourth Climate Change Strategy Annual Report and Action Plan. Members noted the following points:


·         This Action Plan update was due to go to Cabinet in January 2024.

·         Gloucestershire had improved from sixteenth to tenth place in the Council Climate Scorecards rankings, which was an independent national review system for council climate action. The team were very pleased to have this national recognition that the action plan had improved.

·         There were five key components to the report which included an outline of carbon emissions both in the county and within the council estate, highlights from this year, an update on progress against the 2021/22 actions and the five-year action plan.

·         The vision and targets for the overall plan remain unchanged.

·         Figures 1, 2, 3 and Table 1 in the report outlined carbon emissions within the county. These showed a marked drop in emissions during 2020, which was largely attributable to the Covid pandemic and in 2021, emissions had bounced back towards the longer-term trend however they did continue to decrease.

·         Countywide emissions per capita continued to be lower than the southwest average.

·         Corporate emissions continued to decline in line with longer term trends. This year, the council had seen a reduction of 76% in gross emissions against the baseline and net emissions had reduced by 82%, taking account the production renewable electricity from the Energy from Waste facility.

·         The report outlined 63 actions planned over the course of this year and gave a RAG rating on progress for each. There was also a distinction on whether the action focused on corporate emissions or countywide action. 92% of these actions were rated amber or green and had therefore seen some progression this year.

·         Pages 22 and 23 of the report outlined any change to the action plan from the previous year, highlighting if these were new, changed, or merged actions. Some notable changes were new actions on land use which reflected the council’s recruitment of a biodiversity officer, and in the waste section which reflected a recent restructure which brought the waste and sustainability team under one head of service.

·         The final section of the report gave a full overview of the five-year action plan.


4.2       A member questioned whether the current action plan (at around 100 actions) was realistic and deliverable, particularly noting reference made to capacity and resource pressures, and the inevitable financial pressures coming in the next financial year. It was advised that during the review of actions, the team had considered what was achievable and deliverable within each theme and that was what had been presented today. The reality of climate change meant there was an urgent need to do so much and therefore the right approach was to take action on as broad a front as possible, rather than simply focusing on a few areas. The example was given where national bids were made, the council might submit 5 or 6 bits in different but only have 2 approved, this still meant however that at least 2 areas were still progressing and the opportunity for funding wasn’t completely missed due to a narrow focus.


4.3       Cllr David Gray, Cabinet Member for Environment, also likened this point to GCC’s leadership role, and how the Council needed to be seen as leading in a whole range of areas and then encouraging action from other partners and residents. He recognised the danger of being too diffuse, but equally how important it was for GCC to be alive to all the issues contributing to climate challenge and bidding for funding wherever it was made available.


4.4       It was advised that the climate change impact tool had been developed by Cheltenham Borough Council in conjunction with Climate Leadership Gloucestershire (CLG) to be shared and used by all partners. It was publicly available and CLG encouraged use where possible. Officers agreed to share a link to the tool with members. The tool would allow its user to assess impacts on different areas of climate change, for example, what would a decisions impact be on electricity use.


ACTION:       Kelly Osbourne


4.5       There were a few questions about the council’s policy towards carbon offsetting, noting its inclusion in the action plan. It was advised that aside from tree planting, the council did not currently buy carbon credits, but this was something it could consider for the future. Officers were clear that offsetting should be last resort and wanted to focus its initial energy on reducing emissions as much as possible. Members requested further information on the Council’s offsetting policy, and whether the renewable energy produced at the Energy from Waste facility was considered part of offsetting.


4.6       Officers acknowledged that decarbonisation of transport continued to be a real concern locally and nationally. Early results of the council’s transport decarbonisation study had recently been reported to CLG and officers were currently drafting a report for the Corporate Leadership Team to consider the next phase of this work. It was added that this was a major example of a challenge that could not be addressed by the Council on his own and relied a lot on changing behaviour.


4.7       A member raised concern around wider community understanding of the level of emission reduction needed and how Gloucestershire could achieve this. It was acknowledged that unfortunately climate change was not as important to some people as it should be and there remained a lot of work to be done on behaviour change. However, officers did feel there was a lot of reason for hope, there were more and more people wanting to take action, but a lot were unsure on where to start. Communications were therefore focusing on really simple messages and targeting the right type of information to the correct audiences. They were also creative in finding ways to focus on other issues for residents where change could have a positive impact on emissions, for example, information on reducing energy use which would both save money and reduce your carbon footprint.


4.8       There were a few questions on the electric charging point rollout. It was confirmed that there was an aim to have 32 locations for residential on-street points by 31 March 2024 (these were areas where no off-street parking for residents was available). Each of these locations would have 4 charging points installed which resulted in 128 points across the county by that date. This was being done in parallel with introducing a number of locations off-street within the Council Estate for council vehicles such as fire engines and highways vans. The next phase would potentially be delivered by the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure funding which GCC had applied to national government for. Further direction on the allocation of this funding was awaited. Officers needed to be careful not to use all Council funds upfront on installations that could potentially be covered by national funding and therefore leave no leverage funding to support bids for future funding streams.


4.9       Officers had also submitted an indication to Government to be considered for ZEBRA funding which was for zero-emission buses and needed to be a combined bid with bus operators. GCC had indicative approval with Stagecoach and Pulhams to support with their bid to Government and had offered to provide extra funding to implement bus priority infrastructure on the suggested routes. The routes selected for the bids would be focused around the worst polluted areas in Gloucester/Cheltenham and Tewkesbury.


4.10    In response a member raised concern that in comparison to national figures, Gloucestershire appeared to be significantly behind on the number of points installed per head of population. It was suggested that it depended how numbers were calculated. A lot of other areas had a higher level of commercial delivery of charging points in commercial areas (for example supermarkets), but this would not cover off-street parking for residential streets. GCC’s delivery focus was for residential streets and there was also encouragement given to districts to contribute with installations in public carparks for example.


4.11    The Chair raised concern about some specific projects that had not progressed sufficiently such as building with nature standards for GCC construction, the rollout of carbon literacy training and exploration into renewable energy.


4.12    More information was requested around how the Council was addressing its Scope 3 emissions and it was queried whether the phrase ‘95% of the Council’s entire carbon footprint is estimated to be from emissions from the supply of goods and services (‘Scope 3’ emissions)’ was correct in the report. Officers advised that they were currently working with Procurement to understand this incredibly complex area. An action was taken to confirm whether the above extract was correct and provide further information on this area.


ACTION:       Kelly Osbourne


4.13    A member highlighted that Action 7.2, covering 20% of Gloucestershire with trees, was a massive target to reach and questioned whether this was realistic. It was advised that the overall tree target was that set by the Local Nature Partnership for Gloucestershire as a whole, not just the Council. As with a previous a response, all of the actions had been recently reviewed and confirmed as achievable. This action was currently tracking well with over 200,000 trees already planted.


4.14    The Committee were very pleased overall to see how much the Climate change Strategy and Action Plan had developed over these past few years, welcoming the number of workstreams that were currently ongoing and success against targets to date.


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