On 26th February 2019 Reading Borough Council declared a climate emergency on behalf of the wider community, pledging to join the international effort to slow down climate change.
In response to the declaration the Reading Climate Change Partnership (RCCP) – in which the Council is an active partner – set out a roadmap to work towards the goal of achieving a ‘net zero carbon’ Reading by 2030. Following public consultation, in November 2020 the Reading Climate Emergency Strategy 2020-25 was launched at an event involving major businesses, employers, community groups and other institutions across the town.
The previous Reading Climate Change Strategy for 2013-20 set a target of reducing the town’s emissions by 34% by 2020. Thanks to the efforts of everyone in Reading, this target was exceeded – in the latest year for which data is available, Reading’s emissions had in fact reduced by 47%, showing what can be achieved through concerted partnership action on climate change.
Local achievements since the climate emergency was declared include:
– Construction of more energy efficient housing to comply with the ‘zero carbon housing’ policy in the Council’s Local Plan, adopted in November 2019.
– Further development of a strong public transport network and bus priority measures in particular which saw Reading continue to buck the national (pre-pandemic) trends for bus use.
– Community-led action to promote ‘plastic-free’ initiatives such as Refill Reading, with Caversham working towards Plastic Free Community accreditation.
– Continued increases in the rate of recycling in Reading and the recent introduction of food waste collections.
– Development of ‘nature-based climate solutions’ such as the Trees for Reading initiative and ‘re-wilding’ trials in greenspaces across the town.
– Early adoption of ‘smart city’ technology to help ensure that future change supports the net zero objective.
Adoption of the ambitious target of a net zero Reading by 2030 represents a step change in ambition for the town. To mark the two-year anniversary of declaring a climate emergency, RCCP are therefore asking residents, businesses and local organisations to re-double their efforts to tackle climate change, taking advantage of the information and resources on the Partnership’s new website to help them do so.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “We have made good progress in two years since we declared a climate emergency; and there is a lot more work planned for us to do ourselves and with others to achieve a net zero carbon Reading by 2030.”
“We recognise the importance of the Council leading by example, and recently signed up to the international ‘Race to Zero’ campaign with that in mind. But action speaks louder than words so we also have taken steps to drastically cut our own carbon footprint, reducing our emissions as a Council by 63.5% since 2008/09, and have reaffirmed our commitment in our recent budget announcement which includes ambitious plans for low carbon investment.”
Professor Tim Dixon, Co-chair of the Reading Climate Change Partnership added: “Tackling this ambitious target will be challenging and will require everyone in Reading to work together, and for us all to change the way we do things. As we emerge from the COVID pandemic and look to COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, there are real opportunities for us to do things differently. Climate change matters now more than ever, and to find out more about how everyone can make a difference please do visit the Reading CAN website.”
Tracey Rawling Church, Co-chair of the Reading Climate Change Partnership said: “We’d like to acknowledge the achievement of our predecessor Chris Beales, who led the Partnership during the conclusion of the strategy period 2013-20, and the magnificent efforts of the board and our theme leads in exceeding the planned emissions reduction during that time. My Co-chair Tim Dixon and I are committed to ensuring that we are similarly successful in delivering the current plan and accelerating our progress towards a net zero, climate resilient town by 2030.”
Find out how you can play an active part and get involved at Reading CAN.
The Reading Climate Change Partnership (RCCP) is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder group including representatives from business, community groups and statutory authorities, originally established in 2008 as part of the Reading Local Strategic Partnership. The Council is an active partner in RCCP.