Dorset Council makes statement on Climate Emergency

Following Dorset Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, Cllr Ray Bryan has invited political group leaders to appoint representatives to sit on a Policy Development Panel to discuss how the council will set carbon reduction targets.

Initially, it is proposed that the panel is comprised of eight council members with support from senior and technical officers who can advise and enable delivery of policy developed by the group.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment said:
“Over the last two weeks, officers have been gathering background information on carbon reduction initiatives already delivered across the former Dorset councils, to establish our current position.

“We will include experts from outside our organisation to ensure we get the most up to date knowledge and information to form our policies and so we can plan well beyond my time as a Councillor. We will be open and transparent in our plans and will always listen to constructive criticism.

“However, we need to manage the expectations of those that would like us to bring forward changes with immediate effect.”

Dorset’s former councils worked to mitigate climate change both within their operations and in partnership with public, private and community organisations.

Work was focused in three key areas:

Direct action – reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions

Each former council developed a carbon management plan delivering some significant achievements including:

• Reductions in fuel and mileage
• Energy efficiency projects in council buildings and schools
• Almost halving energy used in street lighting

Indirect action- influence and leadership through our wider services

Dorset Council can have a wide influence across Dorset through the services it provides, including planning, housing, pensions/investments, community services, air quality, transport, economic development, children’s & adult’s services and public health.

Partnership working

In response to the Climate Change Act and EU renewable energy directive, Dorset established the Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole Renewable Energy strategy and an Energy Efficiency strategy. These were developed through a comprehensive consultation process with stakeholder groups.

The Dorset Council Climate Change Panel will look to build on this and will work in partnership with organisations across Dorset to develop its climate emergency plan for Dorset.

The panel will meet in the near future and will report back to Cabinet in July.

The Panel members on the Dorset Council Climate Emergency Panel are:

  1. Conservative – Cllr Ray Bryan
  2. Conservative – Cllr Peter Wharf
  3. Conservative – Cllr Daryl Turner
  4. Conservative – TBA
  5. Liberal Democratic – Cllr Maria Roe
  6. Green – Cllr Kelvin Clayton
  7. Independent – Cllr Rob Hughes
  8. Labour –  Cllr Kate Wheller

Dorset Council Climate Emergency Briefing Paper
‎31 May 2019

What is a Climate Emergency declaration?
Dozens of councils across the UK have now declared a Climate Emergency. There’s no single definition of what a Climate Emergency means but many local areas have set timelines for their region to be carbon-neutral by, with dates ranging from 2028 to 2045. Within their declaration councils have outlined how they plan to achieve this, focusing on renewable energy supplies, more energy-efficient schools, housing and council buildings and a host of other measures.

These declarations acknowledge the urgency of the situation and apply pressure to national government to put resources in place to enable councils to help reduce carbon emissions.

Climate Change Background Context
Public concern over the impacts of climate change has been building, driven by frustration at the lack of action by Governments and an increase in awareness of the problem and its implications through the national media.
Numerous international climate change agreements have been reached. Most recently the Paris Climate accord, which set a target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C to avoid reaching the tipping points predicted to trigger catastrophic consequences. Current studies by the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) show that we are not on track to meet these targets and much more needs to be done.

The UK is a world leader in climate change legislation. The Climate Change Act (2008) is a world-first legal commitment to achieving an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is a scientific panel set up to monitor progress towards this target, using 5-year budgets.
So far, the UK has done well, achieving around 40% reductions and initial targets, but is on track to miss the next two carbon budgets. In addition, the CCC’s May 2019 report suggests that the emissions targets in the original 2008 Act were not ambitious enough; we should be aiming to achieve the 80% reduction sooner, and for net zero emissions by 2050.

What needs to happen to meet these targets?
It is clear from the scientific evidence and the Committee on Climate Change that a significant step change is required to avert the serious consequences of climate change.

To reach the Climate Change Act targets the UK would need to completely abandon natural gas for heating, petrol and diesel for transport, and coal, gas and oil for electricity production. And huge improvements in energy efficiency would be needed.

This will require:
• all cars and vans to be switched to electric power
• all heavy goods vehicles to be hydrogen powered (there are currently no sources of renewable hydrogen)
• all heating to be switched to biofuel (which can only meet 5% of the demand), electricity (heat pumps) or hydrogen (using the existing gas network)
• all electricity and hydrogen will need to be generated from non-fossil-fuel sources

Action is needed at all levels. Success will rely on a strong consistent policy and support framework from National Government to encourage the changes required but equally Local Government has a key role to work with others to facilitate action at a local level, encourage and request action by national government, respond positively to decisions and to show leadership in tackling the carbon foot print from their own operations.
Tackling Climate change will require fundamental changes to what we do but offers significant opportunities for Dorset’s economy, environment and health and well-being.

What have Dorset councils been doing to address climate change?

The former Dorset Councils over many years have been working to ‘mitigate’ climate change both within their operations and in partnership with public, private and community organisations. Work has focused in three key areas –

1. Direct action – Reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions
2. Indirect action, influence and leadership through our wider services
3. Pan Dorset partnerships

In addition, Councils have considered potential risks of climate change to services and potential climate change adaptation. This area of work is not covered in this paper, but some good practice examples exist. The Local Nature Partnership (LNP) is hosting an adaption event on 18 th June in Dorset.
Direct Action: Reducing Dorset Council greenhouse gas emissions.

Each former Dorset council developed a carbon management plan and environmental programme of action. These focused mainly on energy and water use in buildings, travel by fleet and staff, procurement, waste and street lighting. These actions were estimated to reduce carbon emissions by on average 30% and save over £26m – £30m between 2009 and 2020. Good initial progress was made but not enough has been done to meet these targets.

Some major historic achievements have included:

• Major reductions in fleet fuel and business mileage
• A wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in council buildings
• Examples of new BREAM excellent buildings
• Dorset schools ranked as the most energy efficient in England
• Nearly halving energy used in streetlighting

To make Dorset Council zero carbon will require significant steps to include:
• All our buildings (including schools) to be taken off gas and switched to biomass or heat pumps.
• All our small and medium-sized vehicles will need to be switched to electricity. If no hydrogen is available, the emissions from the larger vehicles will need to be offset somehow.
• All buildings (including schools) will need to have energy efficiency upgrades and be covered in solar panels.
• Investment in large-scale renewable energy generation
• Any new building projects must be zero carbon (Passivhaus & renewable energy)

Indirect action, influence and leadership Dorset Council can have a wide influence across Dorset through the services it provides. Integration of policy and practice to address Climate Change into key service areas has the opportunity for a significant impact. This could include planning, housing, pensions/investments, community services, air quality, transport, economic development, children’s & adult services, public health.

Historic examples of good practice exist across all former Dorset Councils and several tools and approaches developed to embed sustainability principles into service delivery. Next steps in this area require identification of existing good practice, mapping of key opportunities (e.g revision of local plan, planned / future developments) and embedding into service planning for key services through the transition process.

Pan Dorset partnership on climate change
In response to the Climate Change Act and EU renewable energy directive Dorset established the Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency strategies. These where developed through a comprehensive consultation process with wide stakeholder groups and driven by a Dorset Energy Partnership and several working groups.

Good progress was made initially but has fallen behind and is not on course to meet the 2020 targets. These strategies do not reflect the challenge of the climate emergency and require updating, the Dorset Energy Partnership has also not met for some time, due to limited staff resources across the former councils. DCC led the energy partnership and coordinated and supported the working groups, which involved a wider stakeholder group.

More recently the Dorset LEP has been developing an Energy Strategy (due Summer 2019) in partnership with the other South West LEPs. This will set out high level challenges and opportunities across the area. The LNP also has committed to addressing climate change and has set out position papers on climate change mitigation and adaptation and incorporated into the 25 year environment plan.

The Low Carbon Dorset programme was launched in April 2018 – a £6m European funded programme of activities to support organisations reduce their carbon footprints across Dorset Bournemouth and Poole. The programme is managed by Dorset Council (Community Energy Team) and Dorset AONB.

The Dorset Local Transport Plan and Waste strategy, developed through statutory processes and timeframes, are also key parts of a Dorset climate change mitigation framework.

Developing a climate change plan for Dorset Council
As noted, the former Dorset Councils have been progressing a range of measures to tackle climate change, which provides a good starting point from which to develop a Dorset climate emergency plan. Others are also developing best practice which can be replicated.

The development of a plan will require

• Determining the scope of a climate change plan, establishing a baseline, current good practice and a realistic date by which the Council will achieve zero carbon emissions
• Development of a detailed delivery plan to include reducing Dorset Councils carbon footprint and embedding it into service delivery
• Agreed approach to support pan Dorset partnership and review energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies
• Investment / funding plan

Appendix A, identifies some actions which could be considered as part of Climate Change plan to achieve a zero carbon Dorset.

The Community Energy Team has the expertise to lead the development of a climate change action plan, but a dedicated staff resource would be required to coordinate the development of a plan and to work with staff from across Dorset Council.

Additional external support could be brought in if required from organisations such as the Carbon trust, Regen SW or Centre for sustainable energy.
Available resources

Staff resource
The Community Energy team has an allocated budget for a ‘Corporate sustainability Officer’ (1 FTE). The post is currently vacant due to secondment to the Low Carbon Dorset Programme.
Financial resource
There is no dedicated budget allocated to climate change. The Community Energy Team have a predicted underspend from current unfilled posts (iro £15k – 20k). This could be utilised to draw in additional external support if required.
The Low Carbon Dorset programme currently has a £2 million grant fund which can offer 40% towards energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Available for Public, Community and Business organisations that meet programme criteria.
Delivering climate change action plan
Achieving a zero carbon Dorset will require significant investment. There are several sources of potential funding which will need to be further explored. To include –
• ERDF low carbon funding (potential extension to Low Carbon Dorset programme)
• Pension funds – investment opportunities for large scale low risk renewable energy projects with good returns
• Public Loan board funds/ internal funds such as capital programme
• Business rates receipts from renewable energy installation in Dorset – est £1m.yr
• Salix Finance – government loan scheme, with rules
• Future prosperity fund / other – Central government funds to be confirmed.

Executive Advisory Panel structure
The membership of the Executive advisory panel beyond the cross-party Council Members will depend on the scope of its role in tackling Dorset’s climate emergency. If focused on Dorset Council’s direct and indirect impacts this could be an internal group of senior officers, covering responsibilities for – property & assets, transport, environment, waste, community energy, planning, finance and potentially wider services such as housing etc..
If considering wider Dorset Climate Emergency, the panel could include representation from for example the LNP and LEP.

Appendix A – Example actions for a Climate Change action plan
General principles
• Commit resources to coordinate the development & delivery of a plan – budget & expertise available within Community Energy Team.
• Take a one team approach both internally and working with partners to develop and deliver a climate change plan
• Embed the principle of sustainability and climate change within the development of the 5- year transformation programme
• Lobby the UK Government to develop a clear and stable policy & support framework to enable the rate of change required and to make available funding to support local areas to take action
• Maximise the use of external funding to deliver our ambitions

Short Term
• Determining a realistic date by which the Council will achieve zero carbon emissions
• Develop a reviewed carbon management programme for reducing Dorset Councils own carbon footprint.
• Work with the LEP and LNP to review and update the Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole renewable energy and energy efficiency strategies which lapse in 2020
• Investments in all identified energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with returns of 7 years or less
• Switching all council datacentres and server rooms to free air cooling
• Investment in a large ground-mounted solar farm
• Ensuring that all new small- and medium-sized vehicles purchased by the Council are electric
• Ensuring that all new council buildings are designed and built with sustainability as the joint primary concern (no use of natural gas, PassivHaus with PV-covered south-facing roofs)
• Doing everything in our power to ensure that all new buildings in Dorset are designed and built with sustainability as the joint primary concern, viewing planning applications for renewable energy favourably
• Encouraging Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to become a test settlement for hydrogen heating
• Educating ourselves, as decision makers, in the reality of the science and mitigation of climate change
• Reducing the rents on our farms to allow the tenants to compete in the market while insisting that they shift away from high-carbon agriculture
• Divesting our pension fund from any companies profiting from the extraction or processing of fossil fuels

Mid Term
• Investments in all energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with returns of 30 years or less
• Converting all of our off-gas-grid buildings to biomass heating or heat pumps
• Converting all of our on-gas-grid buildings to hydrogen-ready hybrid heat pumps
• Installing solar PV on every available roof
• Replace all remaining small- and medium-sized fossil-fuel vehicles with electric or hydrogen models