Environment, Planning - Climate Change

Cumbria County Council has a long history of working to reduce carbon emissions, we published our first Carbon Reduction Plan in 2009. This led to the development of the county's first Climate Change Strategy in 2012.

The Plan

The council is chairing the Cumbria Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) that brings together partners across the public, private and third sectors. The CCWG reports into the Cumbria Chief Executives Group and the Cumbria Leaders Board. This issue is very high on the agenda. On April 22 2009, the government announced the target of a 34% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 in alignment with an 80% reduction by 2050. The council led the production of the Cumbria Joint Public Health Strategy which for the first time commits to action on climate change.

Targets

A number of key targets have been set by CCWG:

  • Reduce CO2 emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050
  • Responding to the impacts of climate change to be embedded in all council strategies

The council has achieved a number of CO2 reducing measures in the following areas:

Travel

Electric pool cars

The council has invested in a fleet of electric pool cars and charging points, to help reduce the CO2 emissions when travelling across the county. Digital improvements with ICT equipment has also helped to reduce the need to travel between offices for meetings.

Highways

Street Lighting replacement

As part of our £ 5.3m LED Street Lighting replacement programme since 2014 the council has reduced the consumption of energy through the network by approx. 60% each year. While savings over £ 1m a year in energy bills.

This programme has also allowed the council to reduce its carbon emissions by over 7,000 tonnes of Co2 per year.

Buildings

Cumbria House

After reviewing the current corporate estate we have taken the steps to create a new carbon management strategy that will cover:

  • Baseline for carbon emissions
  • Review the current policy framework
  • Identify the key drives for change including current conversations to relating to climate emissions
  • Identify phased carbon reduction targets based on specific resource and investment scenarios

Climate Change is defined as the long-term shift or alteration of temperature and weather patterns. Some fluctuation in climate patterns occurs naturally but a significant change in weather patterns and acceleration in global temperature rise is apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and is attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by use of fossil fuels.

  • In the UK the 20 warmest years on record have been within the last 22 years
  • Cumbria has been hit by three once in a generation floods within the last 20 years
  • Since the start of the industrial revolution the average temperature of the planet has risen by 1c - enough to increase the number of severe flooding events other extreme weather events around the planet
  • At the current rate the planet could be 4c warmer by 2100 which could lead to catastrophic sea level rise.

Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and severity. The changing climate is likely to continue to cause more flooding, coastal erosion and impacts on human health. Damage to vital infrastructure could become more common. The Council may find it harder to deliver key services to communities affecting the most disadvantaged and vulnerable disproportionately. The authority will need to plan for this. The conditions for agriculture could change meaning that farming becomes unviable. Rapid species loss could occur as natural ecosystems struggle to cope with the impacts of climate change.  More people could be living in fuel poverty as utility prices continue to increase.

Climate Change is a highly important matter across Cumbria many of our partners are showing their commitment to help reduce the impact on our county.