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Wiltshire Climate Strategy Discussion Document January 2021

Executive summary

This document is a precursor to a new Wiltshire Climate Strategy. It is not a strategy in itself but provides an overview of the scale of the challenge and the opportunities ahead, as a basis for discussion. 

The council has declared a climate emergency, committed to becoming carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030, and to seeking to make the whole of Wiltshire carbon neutral too. This will enable the county to seize the opportunities of a green economic recovery, generating thousands of new jobs  and bringing significant health and financial co-benefits to residents.

Globally the planet is one degree warmer than before the industrial revolution and this is already causing significant climate impacts. While we try to reduce the effects and impacts of climate change, Wiltshire Council also needs to adapt to a changed climate.

Government has pledged to reduce national emissions by 68% by 2030 and for the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050.  

Government data  shows that the key sources of CO2 emissions in Wiltshire are: transport (45%); industry, commercial and agriculture (29%); and homes (26%). Electricity has been a key focus for decarbonisation nationally, with continued decarbonisation needed. However, electricity accounts for only 19% of energy use, and more than a quarter of Wiltshire's energy consumption is for heating using natural gas, with heating oil also widely used in rural areas. Decarbonisation of heat and transport is therefore key. Wiltshire's existing renewable energy installations, of which 85% are solar photovoltaics (PV), have the capacity to supply around one third of the county's electricity requirements. Wiltshire Council directly accounts for only 0.5% of the county's emissions but it can use different levers of influence to effect change across a much larger proportion of the county's emissions, e.g. through supply chains, planning, employee travel, council housing and working with schools and residents.

Section 5 sets out Wiltshire's carbon budget and trajectories and Section 6 explains how we have listened to your views to date and commits to further engagement and consultation on this agenda.

Section 7 sets out the challenges and opportunities in relation to carbon reduction and climate resilience ahead against six delivery themes: 

  • Transport and travel
  • Built environment
  • Energy generation, storage and distribution
  • Green and circular economy
  • Natural environment, land use and farming
  • Carbon neutral council

For each theme, we have listed the types of action the council could take using its levers of influence, as a starting point for discussion.  By last year the council's emissions had more than halved, from 23,758 t CO2e in 2014/15 to 11,641 t CO2e in 2019/20. Projected emissions in 2020/21 are 79% lower than 2014/15.

Finally, we set out the council's governance arrangements, risks to the climate programme  and next steps, calling for you to send us your feedback on this document.

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