Our Comment: A little less conversation, a little more climate action

In our last newsletter we commented on the increasing interest in sustainability and the declarations of climate emergencies by numerous local authorities, totalling over 160 to date.

The recent report from the Committee on Climate Change warned that UK action to curb greenhouse gas emissions is lagging far behind that necessary even to meet previous, less stringent, emissions targets. Last June, the CCC advised that 25 headline policy actions were needed for the year ahead. Over the past year, the Government has delivered just 1 of 25  these critical policies needed to get emissions reductions back on track. The report sets out actions to be taken by Government through strengthened policy over the next two years including flood risk management, water, infrastructure, business, agriculture and the natural environment, health and international risks.

SWM is supporting organisations to both measure and increase climate action.

Earlier this year, we published the third iteration of our  benchmarking report detailing how combined authorities in England are progressing on addressing various sustainability metrics. This is so our members and partners the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) can see where they need to improve and learn from others on what good practice looks like. Looking at the results positively, the figures show a huge opportunity for improvement in the WMCA, especially in areas such as recycling, sites rich in biodiversity being managed well, air quality and health inequality. It is also good to see that there have been clear improvements in reducing carbon emissions in recent years, whilst at the same time continuing to boost the local economy. And it has now just announced its new region-wide carbon target: net-zero emissions by no later than 2041.

And just last week, we supported Cheshire East Council by facilitating a workshop with Councillors from various portfolios to ask them how they think they can achieve carbon neutrality, and indeed how action can be taken to ensure declaring a climate emergency is not just something that sounds like a good thing to do. We were impressed and heartened by the enthusiasm and range of ideas that were discussed, as well as their commitment to contribute to the cause.

The stark reality is that only bold action from across all levels of any authority can be effective in dealing with climate change. We only need to look at the (nearly) record breaking temperatures from last week and the associated disruption to infrastructure and the inevitable impacts on health to show that we are simply not prepared for conditions that may be the norm in less than 50 years.

The good news is that we have the experience to support all types of organisation to prepare and tackle climate change. Our case studies provide an overview of our work both in the West Midlands and beyond. To find out how you can take the next steps in addressing climate change, get in touch!

Download the Committee on Climate Change Progress Report Infographic here.