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Climate groups welcome West Norfolk Council's 2035 net zero plan, but warn much more action needed

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Activists in West Norfolk say council leaders still need to do more to tackle climate change, despite plans to accelerate moves to reduce carbon emissions.

A new strategy, including a commitment for borough council operations to be net zero by 2035 or even earlier, will be examined at a committee meeting later today.

But, although that commitment has been welcomed, two environmental campaign groups in the area say there is still much more which should be done.

A statement from the West Norfolk Extinction Rebellion branch said the authority’s 2035 proposal showed its leadership was now “starting to understand the urgency” of the problem.

But it added: “The council need to apply this urgency to the borough too.

“We need them to show leadership and take ownership of the powers they have as a local authority to aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions borough wide much sooner than 2050.

“The council’s corporate footprint is less than one per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the borough.

“While it still needs to be addressed, they’re fiddling in the margins.”

Documents on the council’s proposals, which are due to be discussed by its environment and community panel this afternoon, argue that much of the work needed to bring the borough’s emissions down to net zero lies outside its powers.

Senior figures have also argued that, by pursuing projects such as the installation of ground heating systems in its own buildings, the authority wants to lead by example.

But members of Lynn’s Klimate Concern group have called for the carbon footprint of all activities promoted by the council, as well as its own operations, to be audited.

Lee Stevens, from the organisation, said: “This isn’t just a matter of adding a paragraph to reports.

“Take the single-use plastic florescent toys sold at pantomimes, for example: they use fossil fuel and toxic materials to produce and they’ll probably end up in the incinerator.

“Does the carbon footprint of holding an event – such as the Hanseatic Ski Race, for example – outweigh its benefit to the economy and community?”

The group also says greater promotion is needed for schemes such as the weekly food waste collections, which were reinstated by the borough council last month following the final lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Both organisations have also called for full public engagement on the plans.

XR said the discussion of consultations in the reports to today’s meeting did not appear to address their submissions, while Klimate Concern said staff and resources should be dedicated to engagement with the public.

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