As of February 2020, 274 of 408 UK local authorities had declared a climate change emergency and committed to taking action to reduce the impact of global warming and slow the rate of climate change (source: Climate Change UK). Norwich City Council declared and passed a climate emergency motion in January 2019. The original motion was strengthened to acknowledge that the climate emergency we face is inextricably linked with social and economic emergencies.
The council has been working on the sustainability agenda since before Local Agenda 21 and has delivered much progress over the last few decades. As a city, Norwich is on track to achieve 2 tonnes of CO2 per person by 2023/24 and based on trajectory data the city will achieve carbon neutrality before 2050, assuming adequate local and national resources are provided.
Fig 4: (See Emissions data page) UK local authority carbon dioxide emissions since 2005 (Source: DBEIS) shows the city’s progress to date and projects them to 2023.
Fig 5: Tyndall Centre pathway projections for Norwich is an alternative dataset calculated for the city council by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. This shows a steep reduction in emissions from 2010. However, the city’s emissions will need to continue to reduce significantly over the next two decades, in order that the city contributes to global emissions reduction targets and national policy to be net zero by 2050. This will only be achieved if central government policy provides the necessary resources and incentives nationally and locally for every sector.
Fig 6: The SCATTER tool developed by DBEIS, Anthesis, Nottingham City Council and the Tyndall Centre identifies residential buildings and on-road transport as being significant CO2 emitters within the City. Both these sectors will need significant investment to decarbonise and will be a considerable challenge moving forwards to a zero carbon Norwich.
Central government will need to provide the levels of funding needed to deliver the clean growth agenda outlined in the UK Industrial Strategy. While the current Covid-19 pandemic will lower UK economic growth: as the economy recovers, the low carbon economy could provide a solid foundation for better economy and give rise to a better global future by accelerating and prioritising investment in the UK’s low-carbon sector.
Retrofitting energy-inefficient homes, helping citizens and businesses to take advantage of new technology and electrifying travel will clearly need sufficient central government funding if we are to succeed. It will require close to 28 million homes and the premises of 6 million businesses to change the way they use energy via the installation of energy efficient measures, microgeneration, and new low carbon heating systems. It will require retrofitting programmes at a scale never seen before as well as a revolution in transport and energy. The pace of change in the UK economy will need to quicken if net-zero is to be achieved by 2050.
The council: Our carbon reduction journey
To date we have reduced the operational carbon emissions of Norwich City Council by 59.6 per cent since 2008, a notable achievement given the diverse range of services we deliver to the city. In recognition of the council’s substantial carbon emissions reductions, we have been awarded several national accolades, firmly establishing the council as a high achiever, and delivering a real step change in the sustainability of its public services.
Fig 7: Reductions in CO2e from baseline year Norwich City Council
Emissions have fallen year on year since 2008. Norwich City Council plans to be net zero by 2030. The graph shows a potential pathway to this objective from 2019 onwards.