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Environmental strategy 2020-25

Executive summary

Councils have an important leadership role in creating low-carbon and climate-resilient communities. This strategy focuses on what action the city council can take to reduce its own carbon emissions, as well as how we can work in partnership to lower the carbon emissions of the city as a whole.

It is clear that 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 like never before to make the Norwich of the future a truly liveable city. Taking action on climate change is a fundamental part of achieving the city’s 2040 vision.

Consultation

During December 2019 - January 2020 the council undertook an online public consultation. This took the form of a questionnaire. The consultation aimed to seek feedback on the draft environmental strategy, giving the citizens of Norwich the opportunity to have their say on the way that Norwich City Council proposes to manage environmental issues within their sphere of influence. The council also reached out to various stakeholders such as the Environment Agency, other planning authorities and numerous third sector groups.

Some responses ran to over a page of A4 in length. One engaged respondent provided 19 individual answers to one question. 1831 responses were collected in total, with the responses running to over 25,000 words.

The consultation results have been scrutinised by the environmental strategy team. Consideration has been given to how viable it might be to deliver various suggestions made by respondents.

The context – Covid-19

This document is the fourth environmental strategy that the city council has produced. In shaping these priorities, the council has listened to evidence from a variety of stakeholders and scientific experts. The council has reviewed its available resources to deliver the action programme contained within this document, and will also review how responding to Covid-19 may affect its delivery as well as presenting a possible new focus on the low-carbon agenda moving forwards.

The Covid-19 epidemic has been a tragedy for many families and has had a profound effect on us all. The emergency measures put in place worldwide to contain the spread of the virus has led to the most extensive restrictions on populations since the Second World War.

There have been huge economic losses, but also some noticeable environmental and social effects: Reduced road and air transport has significantly lowered emissions of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants that affect public health, such as Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). There has been a massive expansion of home working, with improvements in the supporting technological infrastructure and reductions in commuting journeys. More citizens are walking and cycling as part of their everyday routine.

The crisis has shown the resilience of the city and that mass behaviour change is possible and can attract widespread support. Clearly, there are useful lessons to be learnt. It is imperative to address the climate emergency within the Covid-19 recovery programme.

Achievements from the last strategy

Since the publication of the last environmental strategy, the council has delivered a wide-ranging set of actions to improve sustainability in the city and there have been some noticeable achievements. These include: improved cycling and walking rates, decreased domestic waste, better recycling rates, increased domestic energy efficiency, a 59.6% fall in operational CO2 emissions and a 48% fall in CO2 emissions from the entire city.

Award-winning council

Our environmental success has been recognised at a local and national level via numerous awards for sustainability and environmental best practice. These include the RIBA Stirling Award and Edie Carbon Reduction Award in 2019 and Global Good Awards in 2020. 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.

Our priorities

Priority 1: work with partners, through the Norwich 2040 City Vision, to develop a citywide response to climate change to reduce the city’s carbon dioxide emissions;

Priority 2: reduce the council’s own carbon dioxide emissions;

Priority 3: increase reuse and recycling in the city and reduce the amount of residual waste;

Priority 4: increase the energy efficiency of all the housing stock in the city;

Priority 5: ensure that new development is carried out in a sustainable way;

Priority 6: support and encourage more sustainable transport solutions;

Priority 7: support a low carbon economy in Norwich;

Priority 8: prepare for the impacts of climate change;

Priority 9: work with local communities to ensure our local environment is protected and enhanced where possible;

Priority 10: work with partners to promote behavioural change to establish a more sustainable society

Call to action

This new action programme and the council’s new target to become net zero by 2030 provide a pathway to enable the city to continue this positive trend of environmental improvement. We hope that this inspires others to take action and to become involved to ensure a more sustainable future for Norwich and the planet we all share.