Newcastle City Council has set out proposals to power the city with 100% clean energy by 2050.
The proposals are a significant step to fight climate change, and go much further than national targets, which require an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.
They follow a pledge from the Leader of the Council, Nick Forbes made last December. The Leader joined with over 50 local authorities in the run up to the climate change talks at Paris. More recently, the Leader also urged the Chancellor to include clean energy in plans for the budget and Northern Powerhouse. He added his signature to a clean energy declaration by environmental think-tank Green Alliance. The declaration includes other Council leaders, including Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
The need for stronger targets to reduce carbon emissions is currently the subject of significant debate amongst national politicians, including Ed Miliband and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, who are pushing for legislation to achieve net-zero emissions.
Commenting on the announcements, Cabinet Secretary Cllr Stephen Powers said “With this target, we’ve significantly raised Newcastle’s ambitions, putting the City at the forefront of local carbon reduction.
The evidence shows us current momentum isn’t enough. We urgently need to speed up the low carbon, climate resilient transition. The good news is that doing so offers opportunities to create jobs, and improve the quality of life for all our residents”.
Officers will now consider the next steps to implement the commitment. They will bring a more detailed paper to Cabinet next year, setting out options for reductions, as well as how to build the City’s climate resilience.
The pledge comes as new data from Nasa shows that February’s global surface temperature was 1.35 degrees warmer than the average between 1951 and 1980. The data adds to increasing evidence that our climate is changing faster than thought before.
The City increasingly understands the local impact climate change could have. New evidence from the BlueGreenCities research project estimates the damage to the economy of the 2012 flooding was at least £78m. As climate change predictions suggest more frequent and severe weather events, this damage could be set to grow.
Alongside the pledge, Cabinet also adopted a wider set of sustainability commitments, including a focus in the next steps of the planning process, commitments on a new offer for business to encourage the green economy, a revised waste strategy, as well as continuing work on sustainable transport and climate resilience.