To receive an update on performance, and to seek approval to an update of the Climate Emergency Plan that was produced in 2020 which included a proposal for the Action Plan to be re-titled the ‘Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan’.
A report was received on performance since the previous report to Cabinet in November 2021; which sought approval to an update of the Climate Emergency Plan that was produced in 2020, which included a proposal for the Action Plan to be re-titled the ‘Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan’ as appended to the report.
In July 2019, Full Council declared a Climate Emergency, setting a target to reduce the carbon footprint of the Authority and the Borough by 50% by 2023 and to become carbon neutral by 2050. Subsequently, in acknowledgement of the gravity and urgency of the climate emergency, the refreshed Our North Tyneside Council Plan 2021-25, approved by full Council in September 2021, included the following ambition;
“We will publish an action plan of the steps we will take and the national investment we will seek to make North Tyneside carbon net-zero by 2030.”
During 2020, the Authority worked with industry experts ‘The Carbon Trust’ and consulted with a wide range of stakeholders in the production of the Climate Emergency Action Plan. This was presented to Cabinet in October 2020. The Authority had been delivering against the strategic actions in that plan to successfully reduce carbon emissions.
The updated Action Plan further refined and updated the initial work carried out by the Authority and representatives from all stakeholder groups in 2020 in accordance with the Plan. This further Action Plan update report was informed by evolving Government policy and strategy implemented since 2020. It also provided a more comprehensive suite of actions which would be undertaken by the Authority as an organisation, or in collaboration with others.
The significant policy shift towards net-zero 2030 necessitated the updating of the Climate Emergency Action Plan. In line with the new policy priority, it was proposed that the Action Plan should now be called the ‘Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan’.
The Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan was based on the new Our North Tyneside 2021-25 policy commitment, and addresses areas of significant change, including National policy context; Resident survey and Citizens Assembly data; Performance; Governance arrangements; and the set of actions that the Authority would take.
The Climate Change Act 2008, amended in 2019, commits the UK to a net-zero 2050 target. Throughout 2021 and 2022, and particularly in the run up to COP26 in November 2021, key Government strategies, policies, and plans had been released that set out the Government’s approach to net-zero, building on the Ten Point Plan which was published the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in November 2020.
The Authority had shaped the Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan around these key Government strategies, policies, and plans. This ensures that the Action Plan can realise the emerging opportunities for decarbonisation and economic growth and reflects where the differing timeline of national government targets will have an impact on the Authority’s carbon net-zero 2030 ambition. As an example, the natural gas used in homes and businesses makes up 45% of the Borough’s carbon footprint. Understanding the current and emerging alternatives to using natural gas for heat, and the key targets and milestones within the Ten Point Plan, the UK Hydrogen Strategy and the Heat and Buildings Strategy has shaped the action plan.
A summary of key Government strategies, policies, and plans was included in the Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan, which was appended to the report.
The Authority’s carbon footprint was made up of the power, heat and water used to run its buildings (not schools), electricity used to power over 31,000 streetlights, the fuel and power used to operate the Authority’s fleet of vehicles and the business miles staff travel in their own vehicles to carry out their duties. This definition of the Authority’s carbon footprint was in line with central government’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol guidance.
The Authority submits an annual performance report to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that detailed the year-on-year measurement of the Authority’s carbon footprint. This was published on the Authority’s website and was included as a background paper. At the end of 2021/22, the Authority’s carbon footprint had decreased by 53% since the baseline year of 2010/11, well in advance of the 2023 target.
The Borough’s carbon footprint was made up of the power and heat used in the commercial, industrial, and domestic buildings in the Borough, emissions from road and rail transport, and land use and forestation activities.
An annual report was provided to the Authority by BEIS detailing the carbon footprint of the Borough. The most recent report showed that between the baseline year of 2005 and 2020, absolute carbon emissions had decreased by 47% and carbon emissions per head of population have decreased by 51% when accounting for population growth.
The most recent data showed that the respective carbon footprints were: Authority – 14,111 tonnes of CO2; and Borough – 767,177 tonnes of CO2.
Whilst developing the Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan, the Authority had simultaneously been delivering an ambitious programme of work. Key highlights of actions taken by the Authority included, but were not limited to, the following:
· Convened a borough-wide Climate Emergency Board with representatives from public sector organisations and commercial and industrial businesses.
· Commenced a £4.3m programme of work to convert almost 20,000 street lights to energy efficient LED. This will complete the street lighting LED programme.
· Undertaken projects which are financially supported by the Green Homes Grant Local Delivery Scheme to install low carbon heating, energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems.
· Completed the installation of low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures in four of the Authority’s most carbon intensive buildings.
· Planted almost 9,000 trees in the Borough as part of the North East Community Forest.
· Completed an independent review of the Authority’s fleet and grey fleet options for decarbonisation.
· Included climate related questions in the resident’s survey and used the answers to shape the Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan.
· Continued to manage the Authority’s web based “Climate Hub” which contains useful climate emergency information, press releases, key documents, and grant information.
· Commissioned a heat network feasibility study for the Killingworth township area predicated on using heat from mine-water.
· Progress to the final stages of completing 9 affordable homes utilising a Modern Method of Construction (MMC) called HUSK. These homes will utilise electricity as a form of heat and build on the Authority’s fabric first approach with a combination of Air Source Heat Pumps and Solar PV arrays.
· Completed Heat Decarbonisation Plans for 22 public buildings.
· Launched a ‘Sustainability Incubator Programme’ to support North Tyneside businesses to improve their environmental sustainability.
· Continued working with the young, elected representatives to shape the Authority’s plans around climate emergency, waste, recycling and reducing single use plastics usage.
· Commenced the roll-out of Carbon Literacy training.
· Published its 2021/22 Annual Greenhouse Gas Report, detailing performance on reducing the carbon footprint of the Authority and the Borough.
· Developed a scheme to create a continuous segregated cycle lane along the length of the North Tyneside Coast between St Mary’s Lighthouse and North Shields Fish Quay/Town Centre.
· Secured almost £9m funding to provide an additional 14 kilometres of cycle routes and improve active travel and public transport.
· Continued to work with the North of Tyne Combined Authority to develop low carbon investment opportunities.
Cabinet considered the following decision options: to accept the recommendations set out in paragraph 1.2 of the report; or alternatively, to not accept the recommendations.
Resolved that (1) the performance update in relation to the carbon footprint of the Authority and the carbon footprint of the Borough, be noted;
(2) the Authority’s Climate Emergency Action Plan being renamed the ‘Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan’, be agreed;
(3) the Carbon Net-Zero Action Plan appended to the report, be agreed; and
(4) an annual refresh of the Carbon Net-Zero 2030 Action Plan be received, be agreed.
(Reason for decision:It will support the delivery of the Our North Tyneside Council Plan 2021-25 carbon net-zero 2030 ambition.)