Wiltshire draft climate strategy 2022-2027. August 2021
Our world is already changing around us, with increasing temperatures, extreme weather and risks to property, health, wildlife habitats, and food production. Climate change affects us all, but we also all have the power to do something about it.
The council has acknowledged the climate emergency and committed to becoming carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030.
Being 'carbon neutral' or having 'net zero carbon' emissions means that any carbon dioxide emitted - from vehicles, homes, businesses or the land - needs to be balanced by an equal amount taken out of the atmosphere - for example being absorbed by trees, soil or captured from factories by specialist technology. However, bearing in mind that nature absorbs carbon dioxide relatively slowly from the atmosphere and that technology to capture it is not yet available at scale, the easiest way to take action is to cut our emissions significantly. This also shifts our energy reliance from finite resources to long-term, sustainable sources of power.
This will mean making changes to the way we all live our lives. New technology will help us to enjoy our lives without emitting carbon but this will need to be accompanied by changes in the way we do things. Research shows us that a bright future, fuelled by clean energy, is achievable and affordable. However, we need a commitment to achieving this goal and we need to put actions in place now.
We also need to adapt to impacts of climate change that will be inevitable - for example by preparing for more floods and heatwaves. However, the long-term costs of adapting will be far higher if we do not act now to minimise our impact and so the short-term investment is very worthwhile. Climate change is a global problem, but the UK is well-placed to set an example to the world. And we want Wiltshire to be a role model for the country.
The council's ambition for Wiltshire as a county - beyond just the council's footprint - is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and contribute to global efforts to keep temperature increase to safe levels. Everyone in Wiltshire is invited on this journey and we want to make sure that no-one is left behind or disadvantaged in this transition. From the older generations to the very youngest - who will be most affected by climate change - we want to invite you to help shape the future.
As a very large county made up of market towns with their rural hinterlands, the challenges and the opportunities to cut greenhouse gases are quite different from those in urban areas. The purpose of this strategy is to highlight key areas that we in Wiltshire can focus on in the next five years as well as setting out some important context on policy and emissions data. A discussion of challenges and opportunities in each theme was presented in a discussion document in January 2021 so this strategy does not repeat that discussion. The strategy is structured around seven delivery themes.