Thank you Lord Mayor
In January 2019 I made the pledge that the City of Nottingham
would be carbon neutral by 2028. This was an ambitious pledge, which then
transferred into our Manifesto and now is part of the Council Plan. The motion
I brought to Full Council was passed unanimously, and I am hoping that today’s
actions will also be welcomed across the political spectrum.
I am taking this opportunity to make the formal declaration
of a Climate and Ecological Emergency, something which I was unable to do last
year, but seems ever more important in the light of recent events.
The realisation of the seriousness of our situation surely
cannot have been missed by even the most sceptical citizen. Around the world
there are shocking events, which, taken individually might not be an indication
of climate change, but when one seems to come around every corner the connection
Since my motion last year we have had:
the 2nd hottest year on record
heatwaves in Europe, smashing temperature records
around the world, including the UK and recently Indonesia,
in Zambia and eastern Africa, parts of Australia, and South America – Santiago
the Capital of Chile received only 25% of its normal rainfall last year.
in Siberia and Alaska as well as terrible devastation in South America and more
recently in Australia.
powerful cyclones in Japan, the Caribbean and east Africa.
glaciers and ice caps in the Alps, Greenland, Antarctica and the Himalayas
reefs, some of the most diverse and beautiful ecosystems on the planet are
suffering repeated bleaching events due to rising sea temperatures and are
None of this is good news, heatwaves, floods, cyclones and
wildfires all directly threaten people’s lives and the ecosystems on which they
depend. Shrinking glaciers and ice caps threaten coastlines around the world
with inundation and reduce flow of water downstream, threatening drought to
people dependent on river flows for agriculture and their water supply.
Around the world the ability of people to feed their families
is affected by all these devastating events, and without healthy natural
environments their long term future is threatened, creating a growing number of
Here in Nottingham we are in a relatively safe place, we
mostly have decent quality of housing, are comparatively well served by public
services and the UK is not particularly vulnerable to the most devastating
hazards, however, our citizens will gradually notice the impacts of changes in
the environment. We will be increasingly affected by the changes both here and
around the world, our young people are aware of the growing risk and are
rightly demanding we take action.
Although we have not been hit by devastating disasters I’m
sure members have noticed changes we are experiencing, last year in July, we
experienced a new record temperature for the city of 36 degrees. I reckon we’ve
only had one decent frost this winter, and we’ve had more heavy rainfall, and,
in a city with significant rivers such as the Day Brook, the Leen and the Trent
the risk of fluvial flooding is heightened. Anyone living at the bottom of a
slope, of which there are many in the city, is also vulnerable to flooding from
surface run-off as water rushes down hardened surfaces under gravity. Already,
we as a city, are having to take increasing action to protect our citizens,
which is why I had the pledge to protect a further 1,000 homes from flooding
included in our manifesto, and now the Council plan.
More vulnerable citizens, young and old, and with existing
health conditions are the ones who will be most severely impacted, and it is
vital that we do not allow climate change to worsen increasing inequalities.
As a Council, one of our most fundamental duties is to
protect our citizens from emergency situations, and we have a duty to take a lead
in reducing emissions to protect future generations from the worst potential
impacts of climate change.
There is also our wider responsibility as a Core City,
recognised for its excellent record on climate change to lead on carbon
neutrality in the country.
Do any of us want to live in a world where there are no polar
bears, koalas, snow leopards and coral reefs? Obviously not, but that is what
is staring us in the face, a real possibility that, within our lifetimes polar
bears will starve to death because of the loss of sea ice, koalas will not
survive because of destruction of their forest habitat and in particular the
eucalyptus trees on which they depend, snow leopards are adapted to hunt in the
high mountain areas of central Asia where the quantity of snow is depleting
rapidly and coral reefs may well be bleached out of existence by warming seas.
Do we want to turn on the news and be bombarded every day
with grim reports of more death and destruction by extreme weather events? Do
we want people to be increasingly driven from their homes becoming
environmental refugees because of sea level rise? Of course not.
More particularly, do we want mortality rates of our more
vulnerable citizens to rise because of the impacts of heat waves in the summer,
the increased threat of serious flood events in the city and the cost of food
rising as the vegetable growing regions of the world, including Lincolnshire
are inundated by rising sea levels? No we do not!
We want future generations to have a good quality of life,
and, in order to help make that happen we need to join with all the other
regions, cities, towns and parishes around the world who have made the
commitment to make changes now in order to preserve our future.
We have made a good start. As the Charter before Council
outlines, we have made significant progress in cutting carbon emissions
already, from the Nottingham Climate Change Declaration, made in 2000. So far
our emissions are down by an impressive 41% since 2005.
Various key actions have helped our progress towards this
reduction, the use of our EnviroEnergy District Heating scheme, to heat 5,000
homes and businesses, a wide range of energy saving measures in homes,
including large scale retro-fitting of Council Housing, for example in Clifton
and Lenton Abbey, the establishment of Robin Hood Energy which now supplies
green electricity to city residents and the Workplace Parking Levy, which
enabled us to provide high quality public transport improvements to encourage
people to get out of their cars and get on the tram or our electric buses.
These schemes have benefitted the city, not just in terms of
carbon reduction, but by reducing air pollution, so that we now have the
cleanest air of any UK city, reducing fuel poverty among our most vulnerable
citizens and enhancing quality of life.
Since my motion last year we have continued to make progress
more of our fleet, so that by the end of this year 30% will be EV, saving 2,500
tonnes of Co2 in their lifetime,
- Installed more solar panels equivalent to 866
tonnes of CO2 during the year,
cycle routes around Clifton and the Meadows,
We have worked with partners in One Nottingham Green
Partnership to develop the Carbon Neutral Charter and received support from
many people and organisations. On Friday when I met with local members of
Extinction Rebellion they congratulated the Council on the quality of analysis
and vision of the Charter. It is a very high quality document which clearly
sets out the challenges we face and the path we need to take to achieve our
ambitious goals. At the core of this Charter is the expectation that this
carbon reduction will take place in an environment which will deliver further
benefits to our citizens.
to improve air quality, reducing health problems and improving quality of life,
a more sustainable built environment, enabling sustainable communities.
jobs in the green economy, our own “green industrial revolution”,
creating a more safe and attractive city, with good access to natural
environments improving wellbeing and health.
Now we are launching consultation on our Draft Action Plan,
which is ambitious and far reaching. It
is a plan for today, with understanding of today’s technologies and opportunities,
it is the first plan, and will need to be reviewed regularly in order to
maximise new opportunities and ensure we are on the right track.
We need to talk to everyone. We need to hear what people from
every part of the city have to say about this vital issue, all generations,
from different backgrounds. We hope that in the next few months everyone will
get to have their say. Whether they live, work or study in the city, we want
everyone to get on board and help us achieve this challenging target.
The Council cannot do this alone, everyone will need to play
their part, even in the smallest way. Can we ask and support all our citizens
to take simple and cheap actions?
to a renewable energy tariff,
the quantity of meat and dairy they consume,
car use, even if it’s just a couple of days a week,
a tree if they have the space in their garden,
their recycling and do it right!
Employers can easily help:
allowing staff to work from home,
converting their essential vehicles to electric,
the opportunities for carbon neutral deliveries and improve energy efficiency
of their premises.
use of technology to video conference to reduce the amount of travel.
How can the government help?
up the phase out of petrol and diesel vehicles and incentivise people to change
from more polluting cars.
funding for home owners to invest in insulation,
planning regulations to ensure high level energy efficiency in new buildings,
in the electricity grid to enable new developments to access renewable energy,
including projects like our Vehicle to Grid.
Over the coming years, more radical change will be needed,
and the Council must lead the City on that more difficult path, among other
things we will need to
our citizens to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and encourage people in
communities to get involved,
that the benefits of new opportunities make a difference to the people we
progress towards the goal,
to seek funding from every available source to help deliver the huge scale of
retro-fitting of poorly insulated homes and to extend our sustainable transport
with partner organisations, in the public, private and voluntary sectors to
learn from them and ensure we are all pulling together to reduce blockages to
be adaptable, so that our plans can change according to developments in
technology, politically and in society.
As Councillors I hope we can speak as one on this vital issue, that we can lead our communities towards this cleaner, greener, healthier city and maintain our number one position nationally, while making a small but important contribution to global action.
Cllr Sally Longford.