Last night, during a packed council agenda, I presented the latest update to the Climate Emergency action plan.

Six months ago I presented our initial plan, outline eight key focus areas for the council’s efforts to tackle Climate Change.

Last night, I presented the first annual update, during which I laid out the 37 key targets, 123 actions and 385 individual milestones that will take out carbon footprint from 580kt net per year to 72kt net per year, an 87.5% reduction.

It is true that does not take us 100% of the way to Caron Neutral but we are one year into this journey and we have ten left to go.

The Climate Emergency Action Plan contains all the actions that we currently intend to take in fighting climate change across our Borough, and here I must stress the word currently.

This plan will evolve continuously over the coming decade. Actions will be added and some may be removed as we get closer to 2030. We are still calculating the Carbon saving of some of our initiatives. In the background there are more programmes being worked through and evaluated that are not currently included in this plan. They will potentially reduce our carbon footprint even further. More time is needed to fully conclude the levels of evaluation that our residents deserve which is why they are not currently included. 

Once we are ready to proceed with these programmes I will return to council and inform members of what they are, how much they will cost, how we will pay for them and what carbon saving we can expect from them.

As a reminder, this plan sets out to

  • Nearly double our network of greenways
  • Double public transport use across the Borough
  • Build Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Improve our air quality
  • Invest heavily into Renewable Energy Generation
  • Provide support for residents in making environmentally friendly home improvements
  • Retro-fit our schools
  • Plant 250,000 trees
  • Engage our young people in living low carbon lives
  • Increase our recycling and send zero waste to land fill
  • Set stretching emissions targets for new house building
  • Change the way our council buys goods and services
  • And actively engage our residents and local businesses to change behaviours.

This plan is the result of thousands of hours of work by officers from across the council, to whom we should all be hugely grateful.

Particularly to those officers who, rather than paying expensive consultants to undertake our carbon budgeting for us, chose to build that knowledge and expertise in-house. In doing so we have learned first hand how we reduce our carbon footprint and the impact our efforts will have. We also avoid the cost of paying consultants every time we want to add new initiatives or change our plans. The supporting documentation to this action plan is in many ways just as impressive as the actual action plan itself.

There are those that will attempt to make political capital from opposing this plan or attempting to make mountians out of areas they believe to be short comings. Last night the plan was even accused of being both too ambitious and not ambitous enough at the same time. 

Whatever is said though I am hugely proud to be leading this work for our council and our Borough. This action plan represents a significant step forward on our journey to becoming Carbon Neutral. It takes us from 580kt of Carbon emissions a year to 72kt. 

More is still to come and I look forward to telling you all about it once we are ready to move forward.

Thank you to all the councillors who voted for our and your future last night. This plan received overwhelming support from the majority of parties in the council and rightly so. Climate Emergency is now at the centre of all that we do as a council. This plan demonstrates that Wokingham is among the leading councils when it comes to the fight against Climate Change, long may it last.

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