As climate change concerns hit national and international headlines, Darlington Borough Council is making progress with its plans to tackle climate change within the organisation and on a local level. A recent Cabinet meeting (14 July 2020) saw members approve a new climate change strategy and compulsory staff training on climate change.
The strategy sets out the next steps to deliver the pledge made by the council last year to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Progress so far on climate change (from a 2010/11 baseline) includes:
- Reducing the council’s carbon emissions by 4,903 tonnes of CO2, a 37% decrease, despite an increase in the size of the council’s estate
- Setting up a cross-party working group to support the development of a strategy and action plan
- Recruitment of a Sustainability and Climate Change Lead Officer who has produced the Strategy and an e-learning training module for staff.
Steps taken to achieve the above include the upgrading of street lighting and lighting in council buildings and the installation of a combined heat and power system in the Dolphin Centre. In addition, the council has signed up to a zero carbon electricity tariff, reducing carbon emissions even further. Solar panels on the Town Hall roof have also helped reduce energy bills and cut emissions. Nine electric vans have been added to the fleet, reducing the emissions from council maintenance vehicles.
As part of the strategy, council workers are being asked to play their part to identify where carbon savings can be made and put forward ideas. Staff will be encouraged to step forward as a Climate Change Champion for their department.
An ongoing campaign to encourage residents to recycle is also playing its part in addressing climate change on a wider scale as is a dedicated web page with hints and tips on things that everyone can do to play their part.
Councillor Alan Marshall, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration said:
“Now, more than ever, we all need to take climate change seriously. Wild fluctuations in our weather, floods and extreme temperature changes are just some of the effects we are experiencing on a global and local level. These will all have potentially devastating effects on our food and water supplies as well as our health.
“The recent lockdown has seen enforced changes in our behaviour as more people worked from home and fewer journeys were made. I urge everyone, as we come out of lockdown, to take a fresh look at their lifestyle and, where possible, continue to walk and cycle more for the good of their health and the planet and to think more responsibly about their impact on the environment.
“We can all make a difference and play our part in tackling this issue and I am pleased that, as a council, we are committed to making a positive difference.”
Councillor Gerald Lee, Chair of the Cross Party Climate Change Working Group, added:
“I am passionate about climate change and look forward to working with the group and with other groups in the local community.
“This strategy focusses on how the council as an organisation can help tackle climate change by changing how we do things. Alongside reducing our energy use, planning, house building standards, tree planting and active travel are amongst the areas we will be looking at to ensure that this strategy is delivered and the council fulfils its pledge.”