• Two new climate change strategies to drive Reading towards its net zero carbon target unanimously approved last night
• Council has already cut its own carbon footprint by 62.5% since 2008-9
• New Carbon Plan now aims for 85% reduction in emissions by 2025
TWO key strategies to help drive both Reading and the Council towards its net zero carbon targets were unanimously approved at a Policy Committee meeting last night (2nd Nov).
Reading Climate Emergency Strategy
The Reading Climate Change Partnership’s (RCCP) Reading Climate Emergency Strategy 2020-25 (https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s14713/updated%20Appendix%201%20READING%20CLIMATE%20EMERGENCY%20STRATEGY%202020-25-Final.pdf) sets out a road map for the next five years to work towards the ultimate goal of achieving a ‘net zero carbon’ Reading by 2030, as per the Climate Emergency declaration made by the Council in 2019.
Reading Borough Council is just one of a number of active partners who make up the RCCP. Following a period of detailed public consultation which was extended due to Covid, the town’s strategy was discussed and endorsed by Councillors at a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee yesterday.
The strategy focuses on reducing Reading’s carbon footprint by:
1. Retrofitting existing buildings and building new homes to zero carbon standards
2. Generating more energy from renewable sources
3. Reducing transport emissions by encouraging walking, cycling, public transport and a switch to electric vehicles
4. Using natural solutions like tree-planting to absorb carbon dioxide
Reading’s new strategy will now be officially launched as part of Reading Climate Festival, a week of online events and activities from 9th November through to 15th November. Detailed information about the festival can be found at Reading Climate Festival website at https://readingcan.org.uk/events/event/reading-climate-festival. Tuesday 10th November is the official launch of the Climate Emergency Strategy, with live presentations from 3pm from co-chairs of the Climate Change Partnership, the Leader of the Council and senior representatives from the University of Reading and the business community.
Council Carbon Plan 2020-2025
At the same Policy Committee meeting last night, Councillors approved a new Carbon Plan (https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s14715/Appendix%203%20Carbon%20Plan.pdf) for the Council for the period 2020-25. The Council’s Carbon Plan sets out its corporate pathway over the next five years to achieve the target of an 85% reduction in its own corporate emissions, en route to becoming a net zero organisation by 2030.
Reading Borough Council has already cut its own carbon footprint by an impressive 62.5% since 2008/09, avoiding energy costs of some £11 million in the process. The new Carbon Plan demonstrates the Council’s own commitment to delivering on the wider aspirations of the Climate Emergency Strategy, enabling it to lead by example as it encourages Reading’s businesses, organisations and residents to take action on climate change.
In addition to the headline target of an 85% reduction in emissions by 2025, the Carbon Plan sets out how the Council aims to:
1. Generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025
2. Reduce its use of fossil fuels by 50% by 2025
3. Achieve a 5% reduction in water use each year to 2025
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Reading Borough Council was among the first in the UK to declare a climate emergency and has been leading by example and working in partnership with the community on climate change for over a decade. In that time, our impressive achievements include: a fall of 52% in ‘per capita’ carbon emissions since 2005, the fourth largest reduction of any local authority area in the country, and a cut in the Council’s own carbon footprint of 62.5% since 2008/09 – exceeding its 50% target by 2020, three whole years early.
“Prior to the pandemic, Reading bucked the national trend for falling bus use with a 4.2% increase in 2018-19, and an increase of 40% since 2011/12. Council-owned Reading Buses boasts one of the most environmentally friendly fleets in the UK.
“We have invested £15m on public transport, installed over 13,000 LED streetlights, cutting carbon emissions and electricity costs by over 50%, and have plans to invest over £7 million in energy-saving measures and renewable energy infrastructure in our three year budget.
“There remains much to be done to reach our net zero carbon target by 2030, and that is something the Council cannot achieve on its own. The pandemic has presented us with additional challenges, for example by reducing public transport use, but has also shown us how we can tackle global issues by working together in partnership at a local level.
“The RCCP’s new climate emergency strategy will give us a strong framework on which to work. The Council intends to continue its leadership role by setting ambitious targets for the town and for itself, securing finance and helping to engage Reading’s community in action to tackle climate change.
“However, the Strategy will only be successful if it is supported by a wide range of Reading’s local businesses, our vibrant community and voluntary sector, our further and higher educational institutions and the many important national and international companies who have their HQs here. I hope they will all step up and play their part in delivering Reading’s most ambitious Climate Strategy.”