Tough measures needed to drive down district's emissions, new report reveals
A major shift in current behaviours is required by Mendip communities to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030.
These are the frank findings of a Future Emissions Pathways report commissioned by the District Council to identify the most suitable roadmap towards carbon neutrality. The first report of its kind ever carried out in Mendip reveals the urgency and scale of intensity required, within the Council's existing powers, to drive down emissions across the whole of the area.
Mendip is one of 300 councils nationwide to date to have declared a climate emergency. The Council made a pledge in February 2019 'to make best endeavours to enable the district to become carbon neutral by 2030`.
However, Mendip's new future emissions report highlights that achieving carbon neutrality requires massive behaviour change, such as a 100% shift to electric buses and trains, an 89% shift to electric cars, and 100% of new housing stock built to the extremely high environmental standards (Passivhaus), by 2030.
Mendip District Council's Portfolio Holder for Strategic Policy and Climate Change, Cllr Tom Ronan, said: "Many other councils will be receiving equally pessimistic emissions reports at this time. What is clear is that most of the powers needed to make the necessary changes are not ours, they rest with central Government and it's important we make that widely known so that concerned residents know where the responsibility lies. All local authorities need to be working together to lobby central Government to make the necessary changes."
He added: "According to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research the total carbon budget for Mendip between 2020 and 2100 is 4.2 million tonnes of CO2. If Mendip remains at current emissions levels, it is possible this 80 year budget will be gone within seven years! Urgent measures are needed which will directly involve all residents and businesses in Mendip."
The Future Emissions Pathway report identifies two options that support decarbonisation across the district. Each pathway option includes a series of recommended measures and targets to reduce emissions across all sectors, from the heating of homes, to how we travel - with changes to road transport demonstrating the highest emissions savings. Improvements to the energy efficiency of domestic and non-domestic buildings also have the potential to make a significant difference.
Cllr Ronan said: "The report also lists important 'next steps' that we intend to take, such as conducting a detailed analysis of agricultural emissions within Mendip, and to work with farmers to develop a bespoke strategy to encourage more environmentally friendly farming practices. Tree-planting and nature recovery will also be priority areas, to help enhance Mendip's carbon sinks and our district's habitats."
Cllr Ronan concluded: "A concerted effort is required from everyone in the Mendip community to push emission reductions even further towards carbon neutrality. The adopted future emissions pathway and associated measures will be district-wide so it is vital that we work closely with Parish, City and Town Councils to enable the most effective results."
The report will next be considered in-house by the Council's Climate and Ecological Emergency Group (CEEG) who will do further work to identify which of the two pathway options is the most appropriate and best reflect the Council's existing powers. But it`s clear that hopes of carbon neutrality are impossible to achieve without direct and extensive intervention by Government.