Wiltshire draft climate strategy 2022-2027. August 2021
How National Policy Supports our Strategy
The strategy has been written during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when we are in need of economic recovery, hope and determination for a healthier and prosperous future. The pandemic has changed the way we live and work, showing that we can respond when there is an urgent need for action. Some of these changes are positive for the climate and we can harness these and build on them.
The UK government has set a target of achieving net zero emissions across the entire country by 2050. This is in line with international goals set by the United Nations. In Wiltshire we can, and will, go further and faster.
The UK government puts supporting green jobs and the net zero carbon goal at the centre of its plans for a green recovery. It is committing significant investment towards achieving this goal, such as £1 billion for retrofitting buildings, £1.3 billion for developing electric vehicle infrastructure and £5.2 billion for new flood and coastal defences.
During the pandemic the government has made a range of climate-related announcements although some expected national strategies have been delayed. National policy is changing rapidly in the run up to the United Nations Climate Summit, known as COP26, to be held in Glasgow in 2021, when the commitments from all countries who have signed up to the Paris Agreement will be reviewed. As the host nation, the UK is seeking to provide ambitious leadership and has set interim targets to net zero by 2050: a 68% reduction on 1990 emissions by 2030 and a 78% reduction by 2035.
The message from national government and independent studies is that many of the solutions we need are already understood and available. They include solar and wind power, heat pumps for buildings, electric cars - and more walking, cycling and public transport. We therefore need to base our immediate action on existing technology and behaviour change, while innovating for the longer-term.
The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) Sixth Carbon Budget Report, (December 2020) provided specific scenarios and recommendations for transition to net zero for each sector. The report is clear that we still have the opportunity to turn the situation around and it is achievable, and affordable.
Many of these measures will deliver co-benefits, for example the woodlands and green corridors created to absorb carbon will also boost wildlife and provide accessible green spaces which is of proven benefit to physical and mental health and wellbeing.
There is a recognition in the Environment Bill of the negative impact that climate change is having on biodiversity and the benefits that the natural environment can provide in mitigating over-heating and winter flooding. The Environment Bill also contains wide-ranging proposals to overhaul how waste is managed in the UK, with a focus on treating waste as a resource; increasing levels of recycling; and making producers responsible for meeting the costs of collecting and processing of packaging waste.
The 10 Point Plan and the Sixth Carbon Budget report set out very clear intentions on our national direction of travel as shown in the illustration.
This context allows us to be ambitious but also means that we need to stay flexible. This will enable us to adapt to changes in national policy and anticipated national strategies for the decarbonisation of heat, aviation, electric vehicle infrastructure and the net zero 2050 strategy.
As national policy and legislation are a crucial enablers of action at a local level, we are involved in influential national networks to shape and inform central government thinking in this area. The council chairs the Countryside Climate Network, made up of ambitious council leaders from 28 predominantly rural councils who represent over 45% of England's land area, making the case that rural communities can be at the forefront of climate action.
- More journeys by public transport, walking and cycling
- Thousands of jobs created in green sectors
- More renewable energy, including offshore wind, hydrogen and nuclear
- More electric vehicles
- Grid evolution, smart energy generation and storage technologies