Gloucestershire joins national demand for climate change action
Gloucestershire County Council has joined the new Countryside Climate Network, set up by UK100, designed to amplify rural voices and signed the UK100 pledge on achieving 100 per cent clean energy by 2050.
The Countryside Climate Network is a cross-party group of 21 rural councils from every region in England who have committed to promoting the voice of the countryside in the ongoing national climate change debate.
Rural areas in the UK are at the frontline when it comes to the effects of climate change, including flooding and weather damage to crops, while often experiencing reductions in national funding for faster broadband and bus services.
The Countryside Climate Network states there are barriers to decarbonising, which include lower budgets allocated to rural areas, and are asking for more to be done.
In Gloucestershire, the council has committed to be net zero by 2030, and deliver a carbon neutral county by 2050, working with partners to deliver an 80 per cent reduction by 2030.
Although there has been some disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Climate Change Team at the county council has been working on the Action Plan. The team has considered ways to decarbonise highways activities, developed processes to allow organisations to access the £1m ‘Action Fund’, applied for Government funding to improve infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians and progress has been made on a county-wide Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy. The council has switched to buying 100 per cent renewable electricity for its buildings and other assets, such as signs and bollards across Gloucestershire’s roads. As a result, county council corporate emissions for 2019/2020 show a 70 per cent reduction from 2006/7 levels.
The team has been working with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, which is mapping the natural capital of Gloucestershire, and this work will identify the best places to plant trees as part of the Million Trees Challenge. The Youth Climate Panel has been able to meet virtually through the pandemic. The council is working with Gloucestershire partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors, to ensure a greener recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for environment and planning, said, “Gloucestershire County Council has already acted to cut its carbon emissions by 70 percent and we are keen to work with others to do more. We are moving forward with our Climate Action Plan, and joining the UK100 group is an important step because we are in this together - local authorities should be accountable to their peers as well as their residents. We look forward to collaborating with our neighbours and those further afield.
“We want everyone to know that Gloucestershire offers innovation, knowledge and experience as well as a place to plant trees to offset carbon emissions. We need help to do more to encourage people to use sustainable transport and reduce carbon emissions, creating a cleaner and greener Gloucestershire.”
Polly Billington, Director of UK100, said: “Climate change affects every area and every person, and rural towns and villages can be more vulnerable to the impacts, such as extreme weather. Countryside councils are well placed to tackle climate change and meet the needs and ambitions of their communities for economic recovery and better health and well being, with innovative solutions along with the democratic legitimacy to deliver lasting change.”
Find out more about Gloucestershire’s Climate Change Action Plan online at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/climate-change
About the Countryside Climate Network - the 21 councils represent 14.3 million people in total, a quarter of the population (25%) and two fifths (41%) of England by area. Full list of signatories is available on request.
UK100 is a network of highly ambitious local government leaders, who have pledged to secure the future for their communities by shifting to 100 per cent clean energy by 2050. This is not just good for the planet but for the people and communities they serve, be they in villages, towns or cities. Local leaders are working together to create flourishing communities, seizing the opportunities of technology to create jobs and establishing a nationwide project of renewal, focussed on local needs and ambitions. Find out more at www.uk100.org