ONE year on from declaring a climate emergency, Leicester City Council is reminding people to have their say on how it responds to the global crisis and aims to become carbon neutral.
Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world. Experts predict that unless drastic action is taken, we are less than 12 years away from global heating becoming irreversible, with catastrophic results.
In response, Leicester City Council formally declared a climate emergency on 1 February 2019.
Along with 1,180 other cities and jurisdictions around the world that have made this declaration, Leicester has signalled its commitment to taking the action needed to help prevent global heating becoming worse.
Leicester has already almost halved its carbon footprint against 1990 levels. The city council has also managed to reduce its own carbon emissions by over 45 per cent in a decade.
In the past 12 months, Leicester City Council has carried out a range of measures to help further reduce its carbon footprint, including:
• Sharing information about the climate emergency and actions that can be taken with thousands of children from over 100 schools across the city through its award-winning eco-schools programme.
• Completing work to construct the city’s first carbon zero classroom block. The £1.5m building at Marriot Primary School opened in November 2019.
• Developing one of the biggest bike share schemes outside of London, due to be launched this summer.
• Significantly extending the multi-million pound Connecting Leicester scheme to provide safe and attractive routes for more people to commute by cycle and foot. This included completion of the London Road, York Road and Belgrave Gate cycleway schemes and start of work on Abbey Park Road, Lancaster Road and St Matthew’s Inner Ring Road cycleways.
• Securing funding for five electric buses for use on the Birstall park and ride service.
• Investing over £340,000 to improve the energy efficiency of 269 homes of for vulnerable people through the Health Through Warmth scheme.
• Agreeing a scheme to install to 100 more electric chargers in public car parks and other publicly accessible locations.
• Fitting 274 solar photovoltaic panels to a new classroom block at Fullhurst Community College. The clean energy produced will help the school cut its CO2 emissions by 33,000kg per year and significantly reduce its energy bill.
• Designing a pilot electric car charging scheme for residential areas that will go on site in Western Park later this month.
• Launching a citywide grant scheme offering up to £10,000 to help local businesses and taxi owners to buy electric vehicles.
• Installing a 179kWp solar array on the roof of its museum stores building. This will reduce the building’s energy consumption by 70% and cut CO2 emissions by over 65,000kg a year.
• Securing European funding and beginning work to install solar photo voltaic panels at St Margaret’s Bus Station and at Haymarket and Newarke Street carparks.
• Investing in bus lanes, including camera enforcement at six new sites, to help improve bus journey times and encourage more people to use public transport.
• Launching a second phase of the Green BELLE energy efficiency grant programme. This £2m scheme will aim to achieve a 1,400t carbon saving by supporting up to 200 local small and medium-sized businesses.
• Fitting new energy efficient boilers in over 850 council homes as part of our boiler replacement programme and earmarking £3.4million to extend this work into next year.
• Achieving ‘silver’ status from the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme in recognition of its school meals service’s support for local suppliers and higher-welfare, ethically produced ingredients.
• Announcing the intention to consult on a workplace parking levy to fund bus and other sustainable transport improvements in the city.
• Continuing work with the Environment Agency and other partners on a citywide programme of flood mitigation works that is also helping to create new habitats for wildlife.
• Achieving the highest ‘A’ rating from the International Carbon Disclosure Project for our leadership performance over the last year.
The city council also launched a public consultation in November 2019, inviting the public and local organisations to help shape how Leicester responds to the climate emergency and becomes carbon neutral.
This involves understanding how Leicester and daily life in the city will need to change to respond to the climate emergency and the implications for individuals and organisations – including vulnerable groups.
The consultation explores what action could be taken by the council, other local organisations, individuals and central government to bring about the change needed here.
As part of its consultation programme, the city council has hosted the Leicester Climate Assembly, which was attended by over 50 delegates selected anonymously from applications to represent a cross section of the city’s population, and the Young People’s Climate Assembly that brought together over 100 children from schools across the city.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “Leicester has already almost halved its carbon footprint against 1990 levels. The city council has reduced its own carbon emissions by over 45 per cent in a decade. This is a fantastic achievement, but we know that more needs to be done.
“As a council, we are already working hard to cut our own emissions and to support local people, schools and businesses to make the changes needed to help reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint.
“Responding to the climate emergency will mean making big changes to the way we live and work.
“It affects everyone and that’s why it’s so important that people can help shape how the city responds and meets its responsibilities to become carbon neutral.
“There’s just a few days left to take part in our climate emergency conversation, and I would encourage everyone to take the time and have their say on what is one of the biggest issues facing this generation.”
The consultation on Leicester’s response to the climate emergency continues until Monday 9 February. To take part, visit consultations.leicester.gov.uk