Climate change achievements bringing wider benefits

A new report shows West Suffolk Council is on course to reach its aim of net carbon zero while taking a lead in helping businesses and communities do their bit to tackle climate change.

The report to cabinet explains how the work the council is doing to tackle climate change is bringing other benefits such as reducing fuel bills, and improving health and well being.

West Suffolk Council is a member of the influential UK100 group, the UK’s only network of climate ambitious local and regional leaders committed to delivering Net Zero ahead of the government’s 2050 target and tackling air pollution. Aligning the policies on clean air and climate will save lives and money, and West Suffolk is calling for government support to deliver cleaner air, warmer homes and a more secure future for its communities.

West Suffolk and its predecessor councils have managed and reported environmental performance for almost 20 years. This is now being delivered at pace, bringing environmental and cost-saving benefits for the council and the community, and boosted this year with a £9 million funding package to help achieve net carbon zero by 2030.

The report focusses on the council’s environmental achievements over the financial year 2021 to 2022, while it was supporting businesses and communities through the pandemic.

In 2010, the baseline for emissions measurement, showed the council and Abbeycroft Leisure together produced 8,215 tonnes of CO2e. In 2021-22 this has reduced to 4,859 tonnes.

The report shows that:

  • Emissions down 41% compared to 2010 baseline and down 15% compared to 2019-20;
  • Renewable energy generated up 138% compared to 2012 and up 41% compared to 2019-20;
  • Total owned vehicle emissions down 13% compared to 2010-11 baseline and down 9% compared to 2019-20;
  • Business travel down 68% compared to 2010 baseline and down 51% compared to 2019-20;
  • Total water consumption down 43% compared to baseline and down 35% compared to 2019-20;
  • Total West Suffolk House waste down 58% compared to 2012 baseline;
  • The recycling rate 82.34%, up 51% compared to 2019-20;
  • Total West Suffolk House waste down 56% compared to 2019-20;
  • During 2021-22, the council held six Green Flag status parks;
  • Public electric vehicle (EV) chargers installed by WSC can support 67 EVs charging at the same time;
  • Energy delivered to drivers powered 353,170miles;
  • 318 trees and 560 hedge plants planted during 2021-22.

John Griffiths, the council leader, said: “Our commitment to climate change was one of our first actions as a new council and earlier this year we followed this up with a £9 million investment program. We have also set our own carbon budget to achieve net zero by 2030 and this report shows that, despite recent challenges like the pandemic and cost of living increases, we are on course.

“Change needs to be made across the board and we are lobbying government for more investment, as well as offering match funding to community organisations wanting to take climate change measures. Small actions will make a big difference if enough of us take them, and we are in active discussions with our staff, residents and businesses about further steps to take. All our actions together will help safeguard our futures and we are playing our part.”

West Suffolk Council has also been generating renewable energy for use by local businesses and communities. Since the council’s first installation in 2012, it has installed 15,000 roof mounted solar panels on business and community roofs , with a capacity of 5MW.

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