25 September 2023
Wokingham Borough Council's response to Government's net zero announcement
Wokingham Borough Council remains committed to working towards carbon neutrality by 2030 despite changes to national policy announced last week that have made the challenge more difficult.
The borough council is disappointed that the Government’s changes will make it harder to meet the commitment it made when declaring a climate emergency in 2019 but remains determined to play as full a role as possible in reducing our carbon footprint to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Last week the Government rolled back on some of its climate emergency commitments, which will have a direct impact on the council’s climate-related plans, specifically:
The proposed measures will likely affect our ability to meet our Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) goal to reduce private car mileage and all related targets, including the uptake of electric vehicles, active travel and public transport. More emissions and air pollution than anticipated will likely be generated, with negative effects on the environment, health and quality of life of our community.
The announcement will delay the phase out of fossil fuel boilers and the uptake of heat pumps. We can reasonably expect that this will delay or severely limit the council’s ability to achieve most of its CEAP retrofit targets, with government funding and commitments being key to encourage home heating upgrades.
Home energy efficiency
The proposed measures will negatively affect the upgrade of properties to an Energy Performance Rating EPC C. Landlords and Registered Providers may decide not to retrofit properties. This would negatively affect the achievement of all CEAP-related targets on this. It would not only generate carbon emissions, but also affect the quality of life of tenants across the borough, many of which are already living in fuel poverty, with negative consequences on the health system and wider economy.
Behaviour change is key to transition to a green economy, as the responsibility does not lie with the industry only, but also with the consumer. To deliver our ambitious Climate Emergency Action Plan, we need residents, businesses, schools and the wider community to play their part. The scrapping of the proposed behaviour change measures will negatively affect all behaviour change elements of the CEAP and has repercussions on the environment, economy, and quality of life of our community.
Executive member for Climate Emergency and Resident Services Cllr Sarah Kerr said: “We need people to remain hopeful and committed to the cause of carbon neutrality. There is hope in the resilience and determination of communities, individuals and businesses across the UK and there is hope in the action being taken. The Government’s announcement does not change our position. We united as a council to declare a climate emergency four years ago and our commitment is just as strong now as demonstrated by the actions we are taking in partnership with our communities. This is a setback for our local efforts and so we are disappointed by the decision but remain focused on working with partners and providing leadership to achieve our climate goals.”