Calderdale Council continues to identify opportunities to take action to respond to the global and local climate emergency. At the meeting of Cabinet on Monday 5 July, members will consider two unique reports aimed at tackling climate change and contributing towards achieving net zero carbon targets.
As one of the first councils in the country to declare a “Climate Emergency” due to the borough’s unique and ongoing threat of flooding, the Council has set ambitious targets for the borough to be carbon neutral by 2038 at the latest, with significant progress by 2030. It’s hoped this will be achieved even sooner in terms of in-house emissions and significant progress has already been made to reduce the carbon footprint of the Council.
Tree planting is an essential element of the approach to achieve this ambition and members will consider a report outlining proposals to increase tree planting across the borough and agree the tree canopy targets set by the White Rose Forest Group.
The White Rose Forest was established in 2000 and covers North and West Yorkshire. It is one of 10 community forests across England with the aim of increasing the involvement and connection of local communities with the planning, planting and management of trees and woodland.
Members will discuss the planting of trees on Council-owned land as well as plans to enable and assist landowners and the wider community to plant trees on other land in the borough. The planting programme would aim to achieve White Rose Forest canopy targets of 18.73% tree cover in the borough by 2050 – an increase of more than a third.
To further contribute towards net zero targets, Cabinet members will also discuss a report considering how the Council’s financial investments in climate solutions could be increased and calling upon the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to move towards reducing its investment in fossil fuel companies.
Although the Council has no direct involvement or investments with fossil fuel extraction companies, the West Yorkshire Pension Fund, which is a local government pension company used by councils across West Yorkshire, has a wide portfolio of investments, including investments in fossil fuel.
It’s recommended that Calderdale Council requests the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to develop plans to disinvest in fossil fuels in three years or less and to invest instead in sustainable alternatives, such as green energy, that are expected to offer returns over the long term.
This is in line with actions recommended by the Council’s Climate Emergency Committee and also meets the commitments associated with the Council’s involvement in the national ‘Cities Race to Zero’(external link) campaign.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Resilience, Cllr Scott Patient, said:
“At the meeting of Cabinet on Monday 5 July, we’re discussing two very different, but equally important ways that we’re responding to the climate emergency and contributing towards reaching our emission reduction targets.
“The ambitious tree canopy targets for the borough, as part of the White Rose Forest work, would be achieved by identifying Council land for planting in both rural and urban areas and supporting landowners and local community groups to look for other suitable sites.
“The benefits of tree planting and moorland restoration are well documented, supporting our carbon neutral targets, contributing to our wellbeing and forming a key part of natural flood management work, reducing the risk of flooding in the borough.
“The Council’s work to reduce carbon emissions also depends on reduction and removal of fossil fuel from Council operations and the wider borough.
“To support this work, we’re discussing recommendations from the Council’s Climate Emergency Committee to increase fossil-free investments and influence the West Yorkshire pension scheme to invest more in renewable energy. We believe this would not only protect the environment but also minimise the economic risk of these investments in the long-term.”
The White Rose Forest canopy targets and Zero Carbon Council pensions and investments reports will both be discussed at the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday 5 July 2021.