South Cambridgeshire District Council ‘largely on track’ to meet climate targets
More will need to be done to enable South Cambridgeshire District Council to meet its climate targets, a council report has said.
The district council remains “largely on track” to meet the aims it has set itself, but interim measures and more resources have been highlighted as potentially needed.
A commitment was made by the district council to become net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to also double nature in the district as well.
Specifically looking at greenhouse gas emissions, a reduction target of 45 percent compared to a 2018/19 baseline, by 2025, and 75 percent by 2030 has also been set.
A report was presented to the district council climate and environment advisory committee at a meeting today (Tuesday, June 21) to update councillors on progress so far.
It said: “Meeting our targets, both for our own estate and operations, and the targets we aspire to for the district, will be challenging; we have done much of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ and meanwhile rapid population growth means that action is needed to simply stay still.
“Further action in support of the targets is being developed, to include enabling others to do more both within and outside the council, collaborating more effectively and entering into, or developing existing partnerships with other organisations better suited to addressing specific aspects of the work needed.
“It is likely that in the medium term more resources, [for example] an expanded climate and environment team will be required to deliver this work.”
Most of the council’s greenhouse gas emissions – 65 percent – are produced by its fleet of diesel vehicles, mainly the refuse vehicles. The second highest emission producer is South Cambridgeshire Hall.
Since 2018/19 the district council has seen a reduction in emissions produced by South Cambridgeshire Hall, as well as business related driving.
However, officers highlighted that the emissions for the vehicle fleet has remained largely the same.
The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, which serves both the district council and Cambridge City Council areas, has committed to decarbonising its fleet of refuse collection vehicles by 2030.
However, the local electricity network at the depot does not yet have sufficient capacity to meet the charging needs of an electrified fleet.
A project is being pursued to build a solar farm in Waterbeach to meet this need.
In the meantime, council officers have suggested that ‘low carbon fuel’ may need to be considered as an interim measure to meet the 45 percent reduction target by 2025.
The report said: “Several projects are under way which upon completion will deliver significant reductions in emissions.
“These will not deliver the necessary reduction by 2025, and so additional action to reduce emissions from the vehicle fleet by substituting a low carbon fuel for diesel is being considered as an interim measure.”
At the meeting, councillors suggested that if alternative fuel was used, that the district council made sure it was ethically sourced.
Cllr Dr Shrobona Bhattacharya highlighted that outside of the council there needed to also be a cultural shift for many people who she said had grown up in an “excess culture”. She asked how people could revert from excess to a more modest culture.
Cllr Pippa Heylings suggested that this could be taken up by the member workshop to discuss how the district council can help encourage that behaviour change.
Cllr Bhattacharya also said the district council should take into account the emissions from staff who are working from home.
Officers said there is a tool that they are hoping to use to be able to measure this impact.
Cllr Heylings said it was good to see the plans and said achieving the council’s aims would be difficult to do even if the district council had not faced a pandemic and cost of living crisis.
She added that it was important to look at the plans and progress and to “hold the council as much as possible to account”.
Cllr Heylings said she recognised there had been a reduction, but said it would be good to see it compared to the trajectory the district council had hoped for, recognising that it may have been “more difficult than expected”.
She also highlighted the work that had been completed and congratulated council officers, adding that this was despite resources being focused towards the pandemic over the last few years.