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United approach with communities to tackle threat of climate change

Communities across North Yorkshire are set to play a major role in helping tackle climate change as grassroots projects will provide the momentum needed to achieve ambitious goals to reduce harmful greenhouse gases. Have your say by taking the council's latest survey.

A groundswell of support across all sections of society will be required to ensure that carbon dioxide emissions are curbed to halt the threat of climate change. However, a wealth of schemes already under way and involving communities across England’s largest county have laid invaluable foundations for work to progress.

The launch of a new council covering the whole of North Yorkshire is seen as a prime opportunity to drive forward environmentally-friendly measures and provide a co-ordinated action plan to prevent climate change.

The new North Yorkshire Council, which will be established on April 1, is set to adopt a climate change strategy which is currently out for public consultation and is due to promote measures to prevent greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for a changing climate and help nature to thrive.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for climate change, Cllr Greg White, said:

“There is already a great deal of work that is under way which is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the goals we have set to help prevent major changes to our climate. “The launch of a single council for North Yorkshire will play a key part in the fight against climate change, bringing together expertise and experience to promote a more sustainable way of living. “It is a huge challenge to reduce changes in our climate, but with a concerted effort and commitment which is evident across North Yorkshire, I believe it is one that can be met.”

Figures show that North Yorkshire produced 5,829 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt co2e) in 2020, with agriculture equating to a third of the total, transport responsible for 28 per cent and 19 per cent coming from homes.

Initiatives which will need to be adopted to tackle carbon emissions include producing more renewable energy, improving insulation in buildings, encouraging the use of low-emission vehicles and promoting more active travel such as cycling and walking.

Other proposed measures to ensure that North Yorkshire Council achieves an ambition of reaching carbon net zero by 2030 include reducing energy demand and an increasing focus on low-carbon energy such as solar power as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Among the areas of North Yorkshire that have already benefited from the work of community groups and volunteers with eco-friendly schemes such as tree-planting is the Harrogate district.

Harrogate Borough Council is responsible for about 20,000 trees across 505 square miles of land and works with more than 20 community groups. It invested £20,000 to plant a total of 950 trees in the past year alone. The council is also a member of the White Rose Forest project, which is set to see seven million trees planted in North and West Yorkshire between 2021 and 2025, with support from landowners and farmers and funding from the Government’s Nature for Climate fund.

The council’s parks and grounds maintenance manager, Kirsty Stewart, said:

“We do rely so much on the dedication of our community groups and volunteers, and this is something that is evident across the whole of North Yorkshire. But to tackle climate change effectively, we do need everyone to do their part. The launch of the new council means there is an opportunity for everyone to come together and work for the benefit of the whole county, which is a really exciting prospect.”

The draft climate change strategy was backed last month (January) by members of the county council’s executive, who also endorsed an ambitious bid for York and North Yorkshire to become the first carbon negative region in the country, meaning more carbon dioxide emissions would be removed from the atmosphere than are emitted.

The routemap to become carbon negative by 2040 has been spearheaded by the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and has involved councils along with the National Park authorities for the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. The plan involves the public sector, businesses and communities working together to reduce emissions and tackle climate change.

North Yorkshire Council’s own proposed strategy identifies the county’s vast natural resources as vital to helping prevent the growing threat of climate change, using trees, hedgerows, grasslands, peat bogs and seaweed to store carbon dioxide in so-called “organic sinks”.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority adopted the routemap in September last year and will work closely with North Yorkshire Council to make the most of opportunities provided by natural resources. Work already under way includes restoring degraded peat bogs through the Yorkshire Peat Partnership and creating new native woodland as part of the White Rose Forest.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s member champion for the natural environment, Mark Corner, said:

“As a National Park authority, we are acutely aware that transformative change is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “North Yorkshire Council will have a vital role to play in engaging people with the issues and supporting them to take action to reduce emissions - whether that is by improving the energy efficiency of older housing or cutting private car use, partly enabled by improved public transport.”

North Yorkshire County Council and the seven district and borough authorities will merge from April 1 to pave the way for a devolution deal, which is set to transfer decision-making powers and millions of pounds of funding from Westminster to local political leaders.

If you haven't had your say yet on the council's climate change strategy, don't delay, take the survey on Let's Talk North Yorkshire's Commonplace today.

Posted on 23rd February 2023

by Let’s Talk Team