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Love West Norfolk column: Our commitment to climate change

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The end of this month will see the UN Climate Change Conference - COP26 - open in Glasgow to accelerate action on climate change.

The summit will see countries come together in a shared commitment to tackle climate change.

In West Norfolk we share that commitment, as demonstrated by our recent declaration of a climate emergency.

Paul Kunes speaks about how we can commit to the earth.

Paul Kunes (50771260)
Paul Kunes (50771260)

Prior to this motion, we carried out a great deal of work to understand national best practice, guidelines, and data to get an insight into the situation here in our district.

As well as our commitment, we are taking action by adopting a climate change strategy and action plan.

We’ve brought our net zero target forward to 2035 from 2050 - and we are committed to reviewing whether we could bring it forward further to 2030.

Building upon our previous refit work, where we initially invested £1.3 million into energy efficiency projects, we are looking to invest a further 600k to improve the energy efficiency of our street lighting.

Additionally, this year we received a grant of £3.8 million through the public sector decarbonisation scheme to help decarbonise heat from our buildings. We’ve also added solar panels to a number of our properties.

We’ve built a climate change policy into our local plan and provision has been put forward for £1million as a climate change budget over the next four financial years.

And, our Parkway development will be one of the greenest West Norfolk has ever seen: we’re putting in additional infrastructure to support measures such as widespread solar panels and electric vehicle charging at an additional cost of £1.7M.

Our chief executive leads the Norfolk Climate Change Partnership which includes local authorities and other agencies working together to find ways to tackle climate change.

We appointed a full-time climate change officer to work with other staff on this important issue, and I am proud to have been appointed the council’s first portfolio holder for climate change.

There is much more to do – we’ll be making further changes in our energy consumption, such as switching to a renewable electricity tariff.

But we are already seeing some positive shifts - for example, there has been a 59 per cent reduction in our corporate emissions since 2009/2010.

We know that tackling climate change is not something that we can do alone and we will be helping businesses and the public understand how they can play their part, including by working with New Anglia LEP and Norfolk County Council.

We have highlighted through our website some initial ways for the public to consider their carbon footprint and start to mitigate their pathway to net zero.

Every single one of us can play our part and what better way to show our love for West Norfolk than doing all we can to secure a sustainable future.

We at the council will be doing this.

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