The council’s environmental strategy comprises all major campaigns and priorities for the next five years, and highlights our progress during the lifespan of the previous document.
Councils have an important leadership role in creating low-carbon and climate-resilient communities. The Paris Agreement will need local, national and international action to fully deliver its objectives. Councils are the local planning authority and represent local concerns and perspectives. The council also provides a number of services to residents and visitors. We will continue to work to minimise their environmental impact, as well as working across a number of other sectors within the city to facilitate and encourage coordinated action on sustainability.
Norwich City Council has a long history of innovation, and an excellent track record for leading change. Over many years, this has helped to improve and protect the environment of this extraordinary city, one in which so many people appreciate living, working and visiting.
We must be mindful however that local authorities have had their funding reduced by an average of 60 per cent in the last 10 years, and operate within the constraints of continuing financial challenges. Austerity has affected the ability of local government to respond to additional responsibilities or unforeseen events; such as severe weather events due to climatic change, or the Covid-19 pandemic which has created much uncertainty for the future of our city.
However, the Covid-19 crisis has shown the resilience of our city, and that mass behaviour change is possible and can attract widespread support. Clearly, there are useful lessons to be learnt for climate change strategy and it’s imperative to address the climate emergency within the council’s Covid-19 recovery programme.
Councils will therefore need to work in partnership with our citizens, businesses and other forms of government to make the step change needed to address this global climate crisis. Only by working together will we achieve our sustainability objectives and play our part in delivering a better future.
However, we also must be mindful to balance the environmental needs of the city with the social and economic needs of our citizens. Only by addressing all these elements can true sustainability be achieved. Sustainable cities are resilient cities that are able to adapt to, mitigate, and promote economic, social, and environmental change. Rest assured, we will be lobbying national government at every opportunity to encourage them to provide councils across the country with the significant levels of extra funding required to effectively tackle climate change.
This document is the fourth environmental strategy that the city council has produced, and details the council’s environmental vision and priorities until 2025. In shaping these priorities, we have been extremely fortunate in being able to listen to evidence from world-renowned researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Their research has helped us set the context for our future direction and we will continue to draw on their expertise over the life of this strategy and beyond.
Since the publication of our last strategy, we have delivered a wide-ranging action plan. We have improved cycling and walking infrastructure, which has resulted in a 40 per cent increase in cycling since 2013. We have protected our parks and open spaces and promoted biodiversity. In 2008, the council set itself a target of reducing operational CO2 emissions by 40 per cent by 2018 and we have now achieved 59.6 per cent.
The importance that we give to energy efficiency, renewables and tackling fuel poverty has also been demonstrated through our Passivhaus building, our social housing retrofitting programme and, more recently, the creation of our own renewable energy provider, Roar Power. Since the production of our last environmental strategy, Norwich City Council has also received a number of regional and national awards in recognition of our environmental successes. The city council has also recently been recognised as one of the top performing councils in the country by Friends of the Earth, for our response to the climate change emergency.
It is predicted that more people will be living in urban areas in the future, so the population and scope of the city is likely to grow. Cities have a vital role to play in the fight against climate change. They have the ability to translate global climate commitments into tangible local actions – transitioning towards more efficient circular economies. We need to drive the change towards a sustainable Norwich and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In leading this work, we will achieve a better future for Norwich and the planet we all share.
This is only possible if timely, clear, funded and well-designed policies to reduce emissions and mitigate against climate change are introduced across the UK. Current UK policy is insufficient for delivering the existing target, let alone the new UK net zero target of 2050. Sustainable living, defined by the International Institute for Sustainable Development as a need to ensure that ‘today’s citizens meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ , is a common thread which runs throughout the work of the council and is not a new concept for this local authority.
This new strategy commits us more than ever to working in partnership to make a real difference to how Norwich responds to climate change. The level of change required is not something that any one organisation can do alone. The city’s people, businesses and institutions will need to work together to make the Norwich of 2040 a truly liveable city and the best place to be.
Finally, I wish to thank all the individuals and organisations who took the time to contribute to preparation of the strategy.
Councillor Kevin Maguire
Cabinet member for safe city environment
You can also download the strategy as a pdf.
If you would like this information in another language or format such as large print, CD or Braille please visit www.norwich.gov.uk/Intran or call 0344 980 3333.
Produced by Norwich City Council – August 2020