What is climate change?
Climate change is the large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures. It is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. Scientific evidence tells us that the impacts of climate change are stark and accelerating in severity.
To keep global temperatures from rising irreversibly, we must all take steps to deliver short, medium and long-term change in our lives.
Climate change emergency
In June 2019, the council declared a climate change emergency and set itself the target of being net zero by 2030. This means that the amount of carbon we add to the atmosphere will be no more than the amount we remove.
We have also committed to:
1. Comply with statutory obligations to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
2. Work with, support, encourage and engage residents, communities, businesses and other partners in initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.
3. Embed climate change mitigation and adaptation into our plans, strategies and policies.
4. Reduce carbon emissions across the borough by promoting energy efficiency measures, sustainable construction, renewable energy, sustainable transport and behavioural change.
A cross-party Climate Change Member Group has been established to maintain our understanding of international agreements, national policies and local strategies and to identify actions that can be delivered to help address the climate change crisis.
Progress so far
Since June 2019, our greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 507 tonnes and we have invested in 100% green electricity from our electricity supplier for all council buildings.
- Under floor heating is now installed as standard in all of our new housing and apartment developments as are water-saving showers and toilets.
Zero-carbon housing & businesses
- We are working in collaboration with East London University and East Anglia University on the Eastern New Energy Project, to provide affordable zero-carbon housing that can be replicated and scaled.
- As part of the Eastern New Energy project, we have been visiting local businesses to carry out free energy efficiency audits to identify measures to reduce their carbon footprint. Grants of up to £5,000 have been awarded to carry out a range of improvements including changing lighting to LEDs, replacing boilers and improving insulation. 21 businesses have received grants so far.
- We have promoted and distributed many government home energy efficiency grants for home insulation and green technologies.
- We have been working with partners such as Affinity Water to provide advice to our tenants on ways to reduce waste and save money.
- 16 new Electric Vehicle charging points were added to public car parks at Woodhall, Shoplands, Hollybush, Westfield, Moors Walk and Haldens earlier this year.
- We have applied for government funding for over 40 additional new EV charging points, which are planned across the borough over the coming year.
- One tree is being planted for every charging unit with an additional two trees planted for every tonne of carbon that is subsequently saved each year.
- Our Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan is being implemented with new cycle lanes and walking routes being trailed across the borough.
- Low energy LED lighting is being installed in our car parks to reduce consumption.
- Street Tree planting is well underway with 318 trees being planted this season. In addition to this, over 2,000 small trees have been planted around Blackfan Valley.
- Woodland management within our main woodlands has included felling of trees to allow for natural regeneration of new trees. These young trees are 'carbon hungry' as they grow rapidly, helping ensure that the woods are healthy with a varied age tree stock.
- We have increased the long grass areas on our open spaces. Particularly sites such as Black Fan Valley and Monks Rise have had a significant change of mowing regime to allow large areas of long grass to grow to encourage new insects and species.
- We have collected 3,088.44 tonnes of food waste since the start of November 2020.
- Waste processing facilities now have electric vehicle charging points, solar panels and water harvesting systems.
Priorities for the next year
Much still remains to be done if we are going to meet our target of being net zero by 2030.
In 2022/23 we will build on our achievements to date through a range of initiatives ranging from converting the heating system at our council offices, Campus West and Hatfield Swim Centre from gas central heating to air source electric heating system, to introducing electric vehicles for our Street Wardens from 2022.
We have an action plan that sets out actions we and our partners are taking to tackle climate change. You can download the action plan from our Climate Change Strategy web page.