East Riding of Yorkshire Council aiming to have climate change strategy ready in 12 months
East Riding of Yorkshire councillors have heard the authority aims to have its climate change strategy drafted in 12 months as one claimed the time line sent the “wrong message”.
Councillors heard officials were currently looking at educating residents and businesses on cutting carbon and encouraging households to move to renewable energy as part of the strategy.
Principal sustainable development officer Richard Jackson told East Riding Council’s Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee hydrogen and carbon capture technology were also been looked at for the strategy.
But committee member Cllr Andy Walker, who led multiple pushes for the council to declare a climate emergency, said he feared taking a year to draft it was “all wrong”.
The councillor added the Climate Change review panel which recommended the strategy had called for a completed one in 12 months and a recent study claimed carbon capture “greatly under-delivered”.
It comes as council Climate Change Portfolio Holder Cllr Chris Matthews told the committee cabinet members had approved £1m to back the work.
But he added the scale of the future commitments needed was unclear and the amount could be looked at again as early as February’s budget meeting.
Councillors also heard the draft strategy was not expected to be ready until March 2022 following the East Riding’s vote to declare a climate emergency last February.
Jeremy Pickles, the council’s sustainable development manager, told the committee encouraging changes in behaviour would be one of the “biggest challenges” in cutting emissions.
Energy and Carbon Asset Officer Robin Barmby told councillors household solar panels had to sold to some residents as investments to appeal to those thinking “what’s in it for me?”.
Councillors also heard the creation of a citizens assembly or youth panel as seen elsewhere was not currently being considered but an existing residents panel could be surveyed.
Mr Jackson said he did not know how long it would take to launch the strategy once it is drafted.
The officer added the strategy would need to be “flexible” to take into account future technology but it could aim to reach carbon neutrality earlier than the 2050 national target.
The officer said: “The strategy will have targets in it that it can be measured against, but it will need to be flexible.
“Many other councils’ strategies focus on urban areas, but ours will need to take into account the industry on the Humber and the rural parts of the East Riding.
“National targets and things like carbon budgets will also need to be built into the strategy and it will need to make sure the work of different council teams isn’t contradicting each other.”
Council planning officer Andy Wainwright said “big players” were already eyeing investment opportunities locally which could involve “millions, if not billions” in hydrogen, carbon capture and other areas.
The officer said: “If we believe the predictions on climate change then we need to do this faster, we’ve only got a limited amount of time.
“The government needs to be serious about looking at carbon capture and storage as a technology, that remains to be seen.”
But Cllr Walker said the East Riding risked being left in the “wilderness” if it banks too much on hydrogen carbon capture technology which does not work.
The councillor said: “There’s a difference between low carbon and no carbon hydrogen, the latter requires carbon capture to make it in any way viable.
“It is an exciting time for the Humber and the East Riding with that technology, we could end up with all the expertise here.
“But if it doesn’t work we’re in the wilderness, and the government’s 10 point plan on carbon reduction relies on it working.
“A recent study commissioned by a climate change group reported that it doesn’t scale out and greatly under-delivers, if it doesn’t work then the East Riding is going way out on a limb.
“The language around getting just a draft in 12 months is all wrong, it sends the wrong messages.
“A finished strategy in less than 12 months is what we signed up for.”