1. Introduction

1.1 Why we need a plan

Following the creation of the Paris Agreement in December 2015, 195 nations have committed to global action to limit temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. This is the point scientists warn climate change will start to push many natural ecosystems past a dangerous tipping point, which will have far reaching consequences for life as we know it.

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned the planet was on course to miss the 1.5°C target.  In January 2019, the IPCC published a special report that said limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and local governments, civil society, businesses and local communities.  To achieve this goal, the greatest net decrease in carbon emissions must happen in the next decade, and by 2050 emissions produced must be balanced out by carbon capture or offsetting, a position known as net-zero carbon or carbon neutral.

In February 2019, the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) published the Worcestershire Energy Strategy. The strategy includes targets to reduce carbon emissions across the county by 50% by 2030 (against a 2005 baseline), tripling renewable energy generation and doubling the low carbon economy.

In May 2019, the UK Committee on Climate Change, set-up to advise the Government, called for the introduction of a net zero target for the UK by 2050. The Government agreed to this recommendation in July 2019.  The Committee says this target is achievable using known technologies

We recognise the need for urgent action to tackle the climate crisis at global, national and local levels.  This plan is our response to the climate emergency.

1.2 Our role

The United Nations and the UK Government have made clear that local authorities have an important role in carbon reduction. 

Although local authorities only account for a small proportion of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UK Committee on Climate Change, they have a direct or indirect influence over about 40% of them.

Our Intelligently Green Plan focuses primarily on the emissions within our spheres of control and influence as this is where we can have the greatest impact.

While there is much we can do, significant government intervention is going to be crucial in enabling us to meet our own local targets.  This will require national policy decisions and further funding programmes such as the retrofitting of homes with low carbon energy measures.  It will also require changes to national planning policy to require low carbon or carbon neutral new development.

1.3 Creating this plan

With our previous Intelligently Green Plan due to expire in early 2020, in September 2019 our Executive Board agreed proposals to develop a new Intelligently Green Plan for the next ten years.  In the months that followed we did a substantial amount of work to develop this plan involving research and seeking advice from several experts. 

There was extensive input from councillors, managers, other officers, key stakeholders and residents.  Hundreds of carbon reduction ideas were generated, which we assessed and refined based on their carbon impact, cost, deliverability and other potential impacts.