The Climate Strategy sets out the next five years of the council's journey to becoming a carbon neutral county, covering seven delivery themes: transport; built environment; waste; green economy; energy generation, storage and distribution; natural environment, food and farming; and carbon neutral council.
The Green & Blue Infrastructure Strategy, Wiltshire's Natural Environment Plan was also adopted and both documents will now be used as frameworks for all forthcoming council policies and plans, to ensure the council is on track to meet its pledge to make Wiltshire Council carbon neutral by 2030, and its ambition to make the county of Wiltshire carbon neutral.
Climate Strategy Delivery
The council and consultants 'Anthesis' have carried out studies showing the pathway to carbon neutrality for council operations and for key areas of Wiltshire county emissions.
These delivery plans have been informed by the following sources of evidence:
- Comments from stakeholder organisations and members of the public during the consultation on the Climate Strategy which took place in Autumn 2021, as reported to Cabinet (Item 21. Climate Strategy and update on council's response to the climate emergency) in February 2022;
- Studies by consultants Anthesis on the pathways to carbon neutral;
- Input from Wiltshire Council officers across many service areas, as to how the council might act on the pathways studies and Climate Strategy 'areas of focus' and what the actions should be;
Consultation with Wiltshire Councillors, in particular Cabinet and the Climate Emergency Task Group. The task group developed two reports and recommendations covering energy, transport and air quality (see Environment Select Committee papers for 13 January 2021) and planning (see Environment Select Committee papers for 3 March 2021).
The council will continue to deliver carbon reduction work, focussing on the actions set out in the delivery plans for the period 2022-2024, which have been prioritised according to carbon savings, cost, feasibility and co-benefits, in line with the principles of the Climate Strategy (see page 8).
The council is incorporating Climate Strategy objectives into its annual service delivery planning, and will continue to provide information via our website, social media and community organisations to help increase awareness of climate change and provide practical steps to residents.
Information on what the council is already doing to combat carbon emissions and become resilient to climate change can be found in our twice-yearly updates to Council's Cabinet and Full Council.
Wiltshire Council acknowledged a climate emergency in February 2019 and committed to becoming carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030. We are investing money to achieve this and are fully committed. We will also support Wiltshire to work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030. We need to work with residents, communities and businesses to achieve this.
Also, we want Wiltshire to be resilient to the impacts of 2oC change.
In May 2021 we began early engagement with stakeholder organisations to help shape the climate strategy. Between 1 September and 17 October 2021 we gave residents, businesses and local groups in the county the opportunity to have their say on our draft Climate Strategy.
At the same time, we also consulted on 'Our Natural Environment Plan' - A Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) strategy for Wiltshire', which looks at the future for Wiltshire's natural environmental assets and how the council can help protect and enhance them for the benefit of people and biodiversity.
Over 1000 people and organisations commented on the draft strategies. Responses were analysed, and the feedback used to inform the final climate and GBI strategies which have now been adopted.
Questions submitted during our consultation have been answered and can be found in the Climate strategy questions and answers area.
The latest local authority carbon dioxide emissions data from the government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) shows that in 2019 the county's total carbon footprint was 2,587 kilotonnes. This is about 10% of the south west's carbon emissions and less than 1% of the UK total emissions. Transport takes up the largest percentage of Wiltshire's emissions at 45%. Industry and homes make up the remainder. Like many local authorities, we have chosen to use this dataset for our baseline because it is available for free, updated annually, and directly comparable with statistics for other areas, including regional and national data.
Wiltshire's emissions are measured against a 2005 baseline, as this was the first reporting year by BEIS. Significant reductions have been achieved since 2005, in line with the national trend. Key factors driving these reductions have been improvements in energy efficiency and steady decarbonisation of the electricity grid, as renewables account for an ever-increasing proportion of all generation.
Our independent consultants, Anthesis, showed in their report that that without any policy or funding constraints the county's carbon emissions could be reduced by 55% by 2030, but a number of things would need to happen within the next five years, such as 72% of Wiltshire vehicles have ultra-low emissions (which was 3% in 2020), one in four Wiltshire homes retrofitted to make them more energy efficient, 39% of domestic heating systems electrified (9% in 2020), household recycling rates would need to increase to 59% (47% in 2019) and tree cover increased by 21% on current levels.
Wiltshire Council has been working to reduce its carbon emissions for over a decade. Since 2010 the council has been monitoring, reporting and publishing its , in line with UK government requirements.
The report is prepared using guidance published by the government Department for Energy, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Through monitoring our emissions, we can better understand the impact our operations have on the environment and take action to lessen this impact.
Wiltshire Council's emissions in 2020 amounted to 10 ktCO2 - equivalent to approximately 0.4% of the county's 2019 emissions.
On its ambitions for the organisation itself to be carbon neutral by 2030, our independent consultants, Anthesis, found that Wiltshire Council is in a very strong position to meet its carbon neutral commitment by 2030. The main focus of the report was on the council's direct emissions and it showed that the council has reduced its carbon footprint by 81% since 2014/15, and the projects currently in the pipeline should help get that to a 90% reduction by 2030 With further investment in offsetting, the council should reach its carbon neutral target by 2030.