Chelmsford Council’s green journey figures to be published in January

Chelmsford City Council has responded to concern that it lacks a clear journey to get to net zero carbon.

Earlier this month, Conservative city councillor Mike Steel said he was particularly concerned that the Lib Dem administration’s declaration of a “climate emergency” in Chelmsford made in July 2019, has not been progressed.

Cllr Steel added that getting to carbon neutral by 2030 is very ambitious – 20 years more ambitious than central government, adding that “real hard” numbers are needed to get there.

On July 16, 2019 the city council unanimously passed a motion that declared a climate and ecological emergency, which requires urgent action to make the council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2030.

The main declaration was to make the council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2030, an issue of great importance and it transcends party politics.

However, Cllr Steel said that he is worried that the council has not been advised of the original starting points such as what were the carbon emissions of city council “activities” in July 2019 and the scope of council activities have not been detailed.

In response, Cllr Rose Moore, cabinet member responsible for climate mitigation, said the city council’s carbon baseline figure and subsequent progress updates are scheduled to come to the overview and scrutiny committee on February 1, 2021.

Cllr Moore said: “But we don’t need to wait for calculations to understand the depth of the climate and ecological crisis we’re facing.

“The council’s target of net-zero carbon by 2030 is ambitious because it has to be; we either lead by example or not at all.

“We are working hard to get our own house in order.

“Local authorities have a duty of care to residents and are well-placed to make positive changes from within.

“We are striving for environmental and social values to be at the heart of every decision and policy, transitioning swiftly to renewable energy, acquiring electric parks and street-care vehicles and supporting all staff through an award-winning sustainable transport plan.”

She added that since July 2019, the council has honoured pledges made in its declaration, with actions spanning every area of the council’s work, from planning to procurement policy and which includes a 10-year “mass-greening” initiative to create large areas of native woodland.

“In short, there’s no time to lose – that’s why our target is ambitious,” added Cllr Moore.

“We owe this beautiful, increasingly fragile planet much more than an apology; we can’t just weep at the state of things and continue with “business as usual”.

“So much has been broken. It’s time to heal.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter