Cornwall Council Approves ‘Climate Change Plan’

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet has given unanimous approval to the Council’s plan to tackle the climate emergency and help Cornwall cut its carbon footprint. The Cabinet backing comes after the Council declared a climate emergency in January 2019 and unveiled its initial plans to help Cornwall strive towards becoming net carbon neutral, ahead of the Government’s national target of 2050.

Cornwall’s carbon footprint in 2016 is estimated at ~4MtCO2e (million tonnes of CO2 equivalent). The breakdown of emitting factors is shown below.

Decarbonisation of electricity since 2008 has helped to reduce the carbon footprint down from ~5MtCO2e. Whilst further work is required to ensure that emissions from electricity continue to fall, greater emphasis will need to be placed on reducing emissions from transport, agriculture, heating, and waste, as well as increasing the carbon draw down from the natural environment.

The Council’s initial priorities are as follows:

  • A Forest for Cornwall to be planted over the next 10 years and covering around 32 square miles – about two per cent of Cornwall’s land mass. It would increase canopy cover in the region substantially, absorb a critical amount of carbon and support wildlife.
  • A new climate change planning shake-up to strengthen existing policies in the Local Plan to promote renewable energy, environmental growth and energy-efficient homes, increasing employment opportunities and generating more of our own energy.
  • A whole-house retrofit pilot which would see energy efficiency improvements fitted to Cornwall Housing homes, helping reduce fuel poverty for residents on low incomes.

The report highlights that the Council only has direct control over a small proportion (~0.4%) of the total emissions of Cornwall. Climate change does not work to organisational boundaries or thinking, therefore to achieve net carbon neutrality will require significant changes for all actors, organisations and communities in Cornwall. It will require significant changes to the way we do things, from the energy we use, how we travel, to the products and food that we buy.

Cornwall Council will demonstrate leadership by ensuring that their operations will be net carbon neutral by 2030.