The declaration of a climate emergency is just one of 12 recommendations in the report of the climate change review panel, which will be presented to members of the council’s overview management committee on Thursday, 28 January before going to Full Council on Wednesday, 24 February.
The review panel, chaired by Councillor Mike Medini, was established in September 2019 with the aim of looking at what measures the council could take to continue to reduce its carbon footprint and help towards the fight against climate change.
Prior to the review panel, the council had already signed up to the Government’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050 while the environmental impacts of the council’s operations and everyday activities were governed by the Environmental Policy and Environmental Management System.
For over 10 years, the council has held the internationally-recognised ISO 14001:2015 accreditation for environmental management, for which the council is audited twice a year to prove there are robust environmental management practices in place throughout all council service areas and operations.
The council had also undertaken a number of steps to reduce emissions and deliver services in more environmentally-friendly way, including a number of flood alleviation schemes across the East Riding, a 23% reduction in the energy used by street lights since 2015/16 as well as being the top recycling authority in England for the past three years.
But over a 14-month period, which included a five month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the panel considered the work of the council and its partner organisations to reduce the scale and impacts of climate change on the East Riding.
The panel were then able to understand existing approaches to reducing carbon emissions, adapting to the impacts of climate change and capitalising on the potential economic and environmental opportunities for the council and its residents, including attracting the green energy sector to the region.
The panel have now made 12 recommendations for the council which include:
- developing a climate change strategy which will be linked to an action plan that identifies key opportunities for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the East Riding as well as reviewing the council’s Environmental Policy
- committing to reviewing its procurement procedures to ensure that environmental factors are fully considered and appropriately weighted when analysing potential contracts
- considering undertaking viability studies into the use of hydrogen as a fuel in areas where partnership arrangements could be put in place to share costs and benefit from reduced carbon emissions
- developing partnership working by building on existing relationships and creating new ones and helpings influence behaviours and ambitions on climate change in both the public and private sectors, including offering help and guidance to residents, schools and businesses on how they can reduce their carbon footprint
- declaring a climate emergency.
Councillor Mike Medini, chair of the climate change review panel, said: “The review panel worked tirelessly to comprehensively consider all factors relating to climate change in the East Riding.
“Members of the panel undertook a rigorous assessment of all the available data and information regarding climate change and now has a clear understanding of all factors involved in regards to climate change in the East Riding.
“We feel the recommendations in this report now gives the council clear aspirations for achieving its environmental goals.”
Councillor Mike Stathers, deputy leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The council was called upon to declare a climate emergency in the summer of 2019 but we wanted to be sure that if we did it would not be a purely symbolic act but that it would have real substance behind it.
“By taking a considered and meticulous approach, a declaration will now provide residents, businesses and communities with a clear plan on how the East Riding will move forward and tackle this issue and I do believe this places the council in a strong position to deliver in comparisons to other local authority areas.
“The council had always recognised the threat of climate change and the risks it posed and had undertaken a great deal of work over the years to address this but we are not complacent and realise a great deal more needs to be done, and will be done.
“On the back of this report and its recommendations, the council can now move at pace to deliver, including on new projects to ensure the East Riding is leading the way to help combat climate change.”
* The full climate change review panel report can be found at https://eryc.link/review-panel-reports