Addressing the climate emergency and working to become carbon neutral by 2030

Published on 7th October 2019

Pittville lake framed by two trees

A 'carbon neutral Cheltenham' report and 2030 road map will be considered at the full council meeting on 14 October 2019.

Actions to address the climate emergency have been set out in a ‘carbon neutral Cheltenham’ report and will be considered by Cheltenham Borough Council at its full council meeting on 14 October, 2019.

The report and 2030 road map produced by environmental specialists DCA (De Courcy Alexander) makes a number of recommendations that are designed to begin the process of tackling climate change at a local level. This includes a proposed letter to the Secretary of State, setting out the council’s ambition to take action, with a request to government to provide the powers and resources to local government to help make the 2030 target feasible.

A number of major partnership initiatives are set out in the report, including the promotion of a zero carbon future. This will mean:

  • developing renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, on suitable sites in the borough
  • promoting carbon zero housing developments and support for low income households to reduce their energy costs
  • looking to secure a ‘net carbon positive’ council headquarters
  • ensuring all the council’s policies and actions align with the carbon neutral target
  • procuring 100% renewable electricity at all council-run sites
  • seeking to develop a zero carbon sports and leisure experience
  • upgrading the crematorium to a zero carbon operation
  • installing solar powered storage and charging infrastructure in council-owned car parks
  • moving the base of council vehicle fleet operations to a ‘net carbon positive’ depot
  • rolling out a zero emission fleet
  • planting one million new trees.

When approved, Cheltenham will be the first council in the county to have an indicative ‘roadmap’ for 2030 that will help to maximise the council’s ability to achieve the 2030 target.

Residents, communities, businesses and partners will all have a vital role to play and the report considers ways to ensure that the council engages effectively with stakeholders on this critical policy issue.

Cllr Alex Hegenbarth, cabinet member for corporate services, said: “It’s vital that we all work together to ensure that we’re doing everything in our power to help tackle climate change, reduce carbon emissions and work towards becoming carbon neutral at a local level, showing by our actions what is possible for others.”

Cllr Chris Coleman, cabinet member for clean and green environment, continues: “This is very welcome news and a huge step forward. Our residents, communities, businesses and partners have a vital role to play and we will look to work in close partnership with them to share resources and best practice as we seek to deliver on this challenging agenda, which is of critical importance to the future of life on our planet.

“We are also seeking expert advice on how future initiatives and projects can best be supported, to ensure that every opportunity is taken to reduce the carbon footprint of both the council and the borough as a whole.”

Simon Graham, head of innovation at DCA, says: “By declaring a climate emergency and having a clear road-map, the council has demonstrated the will for Cheltenham to be a leader on this global issue.

“I have seen at first-hand how successful a local carbon neutral programme can be and by working with colleagues, councillors, council officers, collaboration partners and the wider community, we can put these recommended actions into effect.”

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In terms of activity, the report identifies a number of major initiatives, subject to viable business cases, which include:

The Cheltenham Standard - Creating an identity that shows that activities in Cheltenham are of necessity to a higher standard with a lower carbon impact, aligning with the Cheltenham marketing strategy. 
For example, to ensure that new developments are ‘net carbon positive’ with biodiverse green space, promoting zero-carbon emission transport and are architecturally in keeping with their historic townscape.

Cheltenham Green Deal - Creating a business case for an investment fund that can be used within Cheltenham to help achieve the zero carbon target through individual, community, or collaborative action.  For example, to provide low income households with a low-cost loan to update their home to become lower carbon, with repayments assisted by their reduced energy bills.

Cheltenham Energy - Cheltenham already has about 20 Megawatts (MW) of installed renewable capacity.  Cheltenham Energy would be an entity that enables the Council, businesses and residents to purchase zero-carbon energy, primarily from local sources.  This concept could also be scalable at a countywide level.

This is the next step, following on from the unanimous motion by full council in February 2019 and the declaration of a Climate Emergency by the council’s cabinet on 9 July 2019.

The council’s climate emergency motion calling on the Cabinet to:

  • Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’;
  • Pledge to make Cheltenham carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions;
  • Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible;
  • Work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5°C;
  • Continue to work with partners across the town, county and region to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans;
  • Report to Full Council within six months with the actions the Council will take to address this emergency.

De Courcy Alexander (DCA) was appointed to help the council identify actions needed to address the climate emergency and work towards becoming a carbon neutral council and borough by 2030.
The task involves looking at what is happening already, creating a baseline carbon footprint for the borough and the council, and then setting out what is required to achieve a carbon neutral position.

Simon Graham is head of innovation at DCA (De Courcy Alexander) and formally of Cheltenham based Commercial Ltd, Simon has a great local knowledge and a track record of initiating and delivering successful sustainability programmes.

He has previous experience of working with local firms, having headed up the sustainability programme at local business Commercial Group, and delivering a wide range of sustainability projects in Cheltenham, including an award winning Carbon-Neutral programme, the UK’s first hydrogen powered delivery van fleet and the Borough’s first large scale solar array.