Commission working on interim carbon footprint plan for Essex

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A new climate change commission set up to help draw up plans for how Essex can operate with a reduced carbon footprint is hoping to have firm plans in place for next year’s international climate conference.

The Essex Climate Action Commission is working on an interim plan to be ready in October.

This is ahead of a full plan for its first year of action, which is hoped to be completed by March, ready for the postponed Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, which is due to be rescheduled for some time next year.

Between now and then the commission will be exploring adapting to an already changing environment, transport, the built environment, energy land use and green infrastructure.

The commission, made up of experts and councillors and chaired by former MP Lord Randall, is an independent cross-party group that will make recommendations to Essex County Council that aim to tackle climate change, by improving the environment with economic benefits for Essex, as well as helping the global climate and improving the local environment for residents.

Lord Randall said he thought people were in the mood for definite action.

He said: “I would want to stress the urgency of this.

“It is often a convenient way for government – and I would not accuse the county council of doing this – to decide to do something so they have ticked the box.

“There is an urgency and I think the public would want to see what’s going on. They will want to know what they can do, but they also want guidance from the county council.

“I do think there is an urgency and we have in the work plan an interim report and I think we need to be working on something toward that to make sure that the time scales don’t slip.

“It is a difficult time at the moment but in many respects some of this work is going on all the time.

“I don’t want to see this coming round in five years time when it’s all actually quite frankly a bit late and this is the very moment to change a lot of this.

“People are possibly in the mood for it.”

Samantha Kennedy, Director of Environment & Climate Change Action at Essex County Council, said a year one plan will follow after drawing on in-house expertise, commissioning research and forming new external partnerships.

The commission will explore how the council can attract investment in natural capital and low carbon growth in year two.

Ms Kennedy said: “I hope this gives us a way in to start to structure our conversations and we have a very comprehensive report at the end of year one which we are hoping to have for this time next year.

“That would give us a comprehensive plan to feed into Cop26 next year and allow us a further year to really ensure our interim milestones and short term delivery is starting to happen and we have an investment plan to support that.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter