Carbon Footprint Report 2021-22
Report of the Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency.
The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency presented the report, emphasising that it showed real progress towards the council’s climate goals. Their overall carbon footprint reduction was the key figure, and had been delivered despite many different factors putting pressure on the council. Overall, they had reduced their footprint by even more than would be needed each year to achieve their target of Net Zero by 2030. Cheltenham was leading the way, and they were receiving positive feedback from other councils.
She was also pleased to announce that the council’s bid for funding to deliver a heat pump at Leisure At had been successful, and would help to protect a valuable local resource for residents to enjoy. Alongside their ambitious plans to develop solar, working with CBH to deliver carbon neutral homes and testing the viability of heat networks, they had a real plan to get the town and council to net zero. Finding the right solutions to the climate crisis in the face of a lot of changing technology and high heritage standards was a tough challenge, but they were investing in Cheltenham’s future today. She thanked officers for their dedication in drawing the report together, and commended it to Council.
The Mayor moved into Member questions:
- One Member had submitted some questions in advance, and was happy that these had been taken into account.
- One Member thanked the Cabinet Member for her open and transparent approach to an important subject. They asked how confident she was that the baseline used for these figures was sound, and not just based on an estimate or national average. The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency responded that she was confident of this, and added that they had made some adjustments to their methodology since the last report to get it as accurate as possible, working with an industry expert. This report went into more depth than previous years, though there were always areas where they could go further, for example a breakdown across individual properties.
- One Member noted that the risk assessment in Appendix 1 listed a number of particularly high scoring risks, and asked whether the Cabinet Member could reassure Members that the appropriate mitigation measures were in place. The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency confirmed that they were, and noted that the risks of not properly tackling the climate crisis was naturally high. This was an incredibly important investment that the council were taking very seriously.
- One Member praised the seriousness and enthusiasm with which the Cabinet Member approached her portfolio. There was great news about the air source heat pump at Leisure At, that would have a real impact on the running of that facility. Could that information be shared with the Lido, since they were having similar issues? The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency was happy to share what they had learned once it was complete, and added that CBC had a strong and long-running relationship with the Lido.
- One Member asked whether there was any update on the boiler situation in the Municipal Offices. The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency confirmed that they had transitioned away from gas to electric there, which contributed to the carbon saving in the report. They were always looking to get more sustainable, and things that were in need of repair were the ideal subject for this.
- One Member asked what the council would do to ensure there was equal scrutiny of CBH’s emissions and contributions towards net zero, given that they were not included in this report. The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency clarified that this was so CBH could produce their own separate report specifically about their properties and emissions. She was sure that they would be happy to discuss it at O&S and in other forums once it was published. It would be useful to compare and contrast their results with CBC’s, and transparency was key.
- Another Member added that since 26% of UK emissions came from domestic properties, it would be useful to include CBH’s figures. The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency suggested that CBH could publish their report around the same time as CBC’s, in order to compare and contrast. CBH were a key partner organisation, so CBC shared their methodology with them.
- One Member asked whether flight emissions as the airport were accounted for. The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency responded that they were not included as CBC emissions, since they were the airport’s own footprint. The airport was due to come to Overview & Scrutiny soon.
There being no further questions, the Mayor moved into Member debate, where the following points were made:
- The work of the Cabinet Member and officers had seen substantial progress in the last few years, illustrated by the good news about Leisure At.
- A number of carbon reduction initiatives were in place as part of the Waste, Recycling and Street Services portfolio. CBC had funded two electric vans for use by the green space, grounds maintenance and toilet maintenance teams, while their waste and recycling vehicles had used a renewable alternative fuel rather than diesel since October. This alternative was 87% cleaner, and thanks to these changes they had reduced their CO2 emissions by more than 220 tons.
- The council’s declaration of a climate emergency wasn’t just symbolic, but had been followed up with real action and progress. The way the figures had been calculated likely meant that the council was saving even more, as they purchased a pure green tariff from West Mercia Energy. The council was taking real initiative to reduce its footprint.
- At the previous Council meeting, the opposition’s proposed budget amendment would have done away with the climate portfolio. The carbon literacy training given to Members was valuable and had led to changes in habits already.
- Cheltenham Borough Homes took carbon reduction very seriously. Various pots of funding were available for social housing decarbonisation, and would be an essential part of their goal to get their properties to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) A or B rather than the current C. CBC and CBH collaborated closely together and were all working towards the same goal.
- It was useful to have a dedicated Cabinet Member working closely with officers on such a complex and important subject.
- The council could look into ways of bulk purchasing solar power technology and making it available to residents. The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency confirmed that they had plans to do this, but then received legal advice that the scheme they were looking at wasn’t quite the right one. It remained a goal, and was a work in progress.
- A Cheltenham resident had set up retrofitting sessions to educate others in their ward, and they were now planning to roll this out across Cheltenham.
- It was essential to reach young people and ensure they were engaged in this so that everyone did their bit.
- The report was welcome, as was the seriousness with which the council treated the climate.
- Parks and green spaces were a key part of the council’s green strategy, and they could consider things like ground source heat pumps.
- The council had significantly reduced its carbon emissions over a very short time. Public sector change rarely happened this quickly, and it needed to be reflected elsewhere.
- It was good to measure everything internally and be transparent, and they had to bring residents along in enabling change. This was a responsibility which they could not shirk, and they had to look outwards and lead others forward. This mission was shared across all parties on the council.
In summing up, The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency thanked Members for their contributions and support. She emphasised the importance of sustainable investment, and the need to engage with young people across Cheltenham.
The Mayor moved to the vote, which was carried unanimously.
- Carbon footprint report 2021-22, item 10. PDF 426 KB
- Carbon footprint report 2021-22 appendix, item 10. PDF 590 KB