Climate Emergency – We need actions not words

November 12, 2021 8:00 AM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Mayor Dave's November Column for the Times and CitizenMayor Dave has written about the Climate Emergency for the Times and Citizen. You can read the full text of the column below:

Climate Emergency - We need actions not words

Prior to COP26, I wrote to the Prime Minister to express how important tackling the climate emergency was and how we needed joined-up government to achieve net zero. I have committed the council to be Net Carbon Zero by 2030 and we have already produced a Carbon Reduction Strategy detailing our future plans.

It is now time for the Prime Minister to show the climate leadership needed to stop climate breakdown. Or we will see this Government as being full of hot air.

We have seen this Conservative Government talks a good talk but rarely delivers for the environment. Only last week the Chancellor lowered the duty on domestic air travel when we should be encouraging people to use public transport and not fly.

I have already called on the Government to ensure that East West Rail is electrified from day one and hope that they understand the importance of delivering cleaner and greener transport options - sadly their actions suggest otherwise.

The science tells us that what the country has endured during the COVID-19 pandemic will pale in comparison to the economic and social impacts of climate breakdown if we do not take action immediately. The latest IPCC report told us that we have even less time left than we thought and the independent UK Climate Risk Assessment concluded that the UK is "woefully underprepared" for the impacts of climate change that will hit the country; that the gap between climate risks and preparedness has grown over last 5 years.

In March 2019, my Executive declared a Climate Emergency and pledged to become Net Carbon Zero by 2030. These were not just words, but we have been taking action locally.

The work to reduce our emissions locally started as soon as I was first elected and in that time we have reduced carbon emissions in council buildings by over 60% since 2009. We have upgraded the street lights to be LED and upgraded the lighting at our car parks. We have also installed a solar arrays on council buildings and a number of electric vehicle charging points across the borough as well as many other projects. I also launched the Council's Climate Change Fund in 2009.

Earlier this year the Council also moved to a new electricity contract where Council owned and operated buildings and street lighting across the Borough powered by renewable energy.

I also set up the Council's Climate Change Committee and relaunched the Council's Climate Fund which can provide up to 50% match funding (from £5,000 up to £20,000) for improvements that reduce carbon emissions and energy costs of community buildings within Bedford Borough. Projects can be made up of multiple building improvements up to the maximum grant available. You can find out more about the fund and how to apply at https://www.bedford.gov.uk/environmental-issues/sustainability2/sustainability-projects/climate-change-fund-2020-2024/

The Council has produced a Carbon Reduction Strategy detailing some of our future plans. These include a new solar farm at Bedford Green Technology and Innovation Park at the former landfill site in Elstow, which will deliver low carbon, clean energy generation technologies and encourage others to reduce carbon emissions, adopt innovative technologies and improve air quality.

You can read more about the Carbon Reduction Strategy at https://bbcdevwebfiles.blob.core.windows.net/webfiles/Environmental%20Issues/Sustainability/Strategies/Carbon%20Reduction%20Delivery%20Strategy.pdf