Climate Emergency Action – scope and underpinning principles
This report sets out the Council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency. It provides information about the work undertaken by the Member Working Group since 30th October 2019. The report also proposes ambitious and informed targets for the Council’s carbon reduction and the key action themes that will form the basis of the Council’s climate emergency response.
Any action will, in the first instance, focus on direct emissions from Council activities and emissions associated with the authority’s energy consumption. Consideration will also be given to how the operations of the local authority’s suppliers and contractors are addressed. Emissions associated with other items and commodities that the authority consumes may be considered at a later point.
The Council will lobby national government and use its influence with external and partner organisations. This is important because the authority produces only a small percentage of emissions in the borough and so in order to secure shared commitments to borough-wide emission reduction, the Council’s influence on other organisations will form an essential aspect of carbon governance.
The climate emergency report and developing actions will aim to work to the principles of sustainable development. This means that any climate actions should contribute to the triple bottom line of human well-being/social equity, economic prosperity/development, and environmental protection and stewardship.
The debate about climate emergency is constantly evolving, as scientific research around the issue develops, the political landscape within which local authorities can act shifts, and innovation continues to advance the available avenues for action. Therefore the Council’s response must be dynamic and reactive as new ideas and technologies develop, and potential actions become subsequently more or less feasible. This climate report must therefore be treated as a “living document”, which identifies key priorities and potential strategies but can be adapted as necessary. Equally, the climate emergency report is currently still a work in progress, intended to provide information regarding the actions currently being considered and the principles guiding these actions.
The continuing development of a response to the climate emergency must also incorporate a long-term adaptation strategy, alongside mitigation measures. This is in order to minimise the threat to livelihoods and growth across Rotherham from climate change’s effects such as flooding and other extreme weather variations. An effective adaptation strategy must be informed by a comprehensive appraisal of likely impacts to the borough; this will be informed by utilising internal and external expertise as well as insight gained from the community.