Measures taken to tackle climate change in Northamptonshire and a strategy to make the county council carbon neutral by 2030 will be discussed by the authority’s Cabinet next week.
In the past 10 years the county council has reduced carbon emissions – a principal cause of climate change – by 72 per cent, mainly achieved by taking action to reduce energy usage in its assets.
Additionally the council in partnership with Woodland Trust has planted 253,000 trees across Northamptonshire over the past 11 years – by providing tree and hedgerow packs to community groups, parish councils and landowners.
Going forward, the authority will build on this work by re-instating the tree planting initiative and by exploring the opportunity to invest in solar power and other sources of renewable energy.
Cllr Jason Smithers, county council cabinet member for highways and place, said:
“Climate change is a major crisis not just for the county but globally too and it’s essential that we do what we can to address it.
“While some good work has already taken place in the county it’s important that we continue to work towards reducing carbon emissions, a major cause of climate change.”
Through its ownership and responsibility for an estimated 600,000 trees in Northamptonshire the county council is able to go some way already to off-setting carbon emissions, as 600,000 trees collectively absorb about 13,000 tonnes of carbon per year, based on an estimated average of 21kg of carbon absorbed per tree annually.
The planting of an extra 300,000 trees would deliver an annual reduction of 6,700 tonnes of carbon, which is the required amount to enable the county council to be deemed carbon neutral.
Measures currently underway to reduce transport emissions include the Smart Move Northamptonshire initiative which helps raise awareness of low carbon modes of travel and supporting low emission vehicles through the Smart Commuter Initiative including promoting the role of e-bikes and LEV charging.
While the Northamptonshire Energy Saving Service (known as NESS) is a three year project up to 2021, which helps address fuel poverty across the county.
Recently the authority’s Cabinet agreed to buy green carbon neutral energy as part of the council’s LASER energy contract, while there has also been new capital investment to further reduce the energy used by street lights. Together these will result in a 38 per cent reduction from current levels of county council emissions.
With regard to the further impacts of climate change, the county council, working with partners has introduced measures to mitigate the effects of climate change including increased flood risk, reduced air quality and increased temperatures.