Sheffield City Council is delivering projects that will see £43million spent towards tackling the impact of climate change over the next five years.
Twelve months ago the authority declared a climate emergency and also brought forward its target and ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.
The council has been working to identify, investigate and implement ways to become cleaner and greener across all areas of the authority and ensure that the whole city is doing everything possible to limit man-made climate change.
The £43million, which is the collective total of all ongoing and new projects, relates to various schemes, that contribute to reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality and strengthening the city’s resilience against the impact of climate change.
Some of these projects were developed before the climate emergency was declared, and as well as the contributions towards a better climate, were actually started to achieve other outcomes for residents in the city such as improved journey times and a better waste collection service.
Councillor Mark Jones Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change, said: “This is a global emergency that affects every single living thing and each of us must take responsibility and make changes to improve our future.
“Addressing this at a city level is an enormous challenge. We can’t fix it overnight. It requires compromise, sacrifice and change from everyone. There will be some very difficult decisions and choices to make in order to reach our goal. But, we’re determined and this multi-million pound investment is essential if we are to meet our carbon neutral target by 2030.
“There is a huge amount of work already taking place or in development. You won’t always be able to see it or realise how it contributes to our climate change commitments, but I can guarantee that this is our priority and we’re working extremely hard to build clean initiatives into everything we do. We have achieved good progress so far but we acknowledge that we have only scratched the surface and there is a long way to go.”
More than £18million is being spent to improve the city’s resilience against the risk of flooding, which is expected to rise as a result of climate change. More than £19million will be spent on making the city’s transport greener and creating sustainable travel infrastructure for walking, cycling and bus travel. £100,000 is to be invested for wider stakeholder engagement.
As part of that stakeholder engagement a Citizens Assembly is being commissioned to consider the actions needed to meet Sheffield’s 2030 target, leading to a Zero Carbon Sheffield Plan. It will include representation from all parts of the city and is expected to be underway from June 2020.
The council has also launched a commission for a specialist partner to work on a Zero Carbon Plan to develop the evidence base for the city’s Climate Citizens Assembly.
The appointed organisation will develop a series of reports to inform the Climate Citizens Assembly providing details on the specific options and actions required to achieve net zero emissions in Sheffield within a decade. Further actions for the council to take will be to completely decarbonise its own activities – including council homes, offices and transport fleet.
Cllr Jones added: “Our Climate Citizens Assembly will be introduced later this year. We’re working with our partners to make sure this is done properly, that the right people are involved and that everyone is represented.
“While this is in progress we will be supported in completing essential evidence work that will help us establish what we need to do as a city. These reports will be put forward for consideration by our Climate Citizens Assembly as soon as it is in place.
“I am particularly interested in looking at what we can do as a council to make sure all our services operate with as little environmental impact as possible. We’ll also be looking at how we can introduce a ‘Carbon Impact Assessment’ for all council projects and services. It’s going to be an immense challenge and will mean every council officer has to adapt new ways of working and thinking but it should eventually become the norm and that’s what we’re aiming for, for the whole city.”
Work has taken place or is ongoing already across many council services including waste and recycling, green spaces in the city, sustainable travel, renewable energy and the environment.
Cllr Jones continued: “We’ve improved recycling for all residents and businesses and less than 1% of our waste goes to landfill. As well as reducing landfill waste our Energy Recovery Facility prevents around 21,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from being released every year, as well generating electricity to power more than 20,000 homes, and providing heat and hot water to 150 buildings in the city.”
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks & Leisure said: “Climate change is at the top of our agenda across all council services. We are working collaboratively to make sure our joint efforts have the biggest impact in reducing our carbon footprint. Our parks and countryside service are planting at least 100,000 trees over the next ten years and we have committed to protecting trees and woodlands and enhancing green spaces across the city.”
A large number of projects are in progress including increased sustainable travel, the generation of additional renewable energy and improved air quality.
Councillor Bob Johnson, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability said: “We are delivering a range of schemes that focus on improving our air quality which collectively will significantly reduce our carbon emissions.
“Last summer more than 12,000 people took park in our Clean Air Zone consultation and 80 per cent agreed that we must make clean air a priority. We know Sheffielders care about this issue and it’s vitally important that we have their support so that we can deliver on our commitments.”
A variety of funding sources are available to support cities and towns to deliver on climate change plans and proposals. At every opportunity Sheffield City Council has applied or bid for funding and grants to maximise Sheffield’s efforts to reduce impact on the climate.
To date, Sheffield has successfully secured funding towards a cleaner climate including; £1.5m from the Department for Transport, to deliver high quality cycle networks, £4.9 million for a Cleaner Bus Technology Fund, £1.25m to increase access to rapid-charge points for electric cars and £220,000 for electric bin lorries powered by the very waste they have collected.
Cllr Jones said: “Sheffield has a history and reputation for innovation and cutting edge industry and we’re proud to be world leaders in this field. Our plans are always bold and this has helped us to secure millions of pounds of funding, which demonstrates the confidence that experts, agencies and governing bodies have in the work we’re doing.
“We’ll see the benefits of this funding, as well as the money the council has already committed, as our plans progress this year.
“We recognise the need to protect Sheffield against the expected increased flood risk that we will face as a result of climate change. We’ve already seen the results of our flood programme in the Lower Don Valley and through further flood development and natural flood management we are increasing our city’s resilience.
“2020 is a hugely significant year for us which will see these vital environmental projects progress further. With only ten years to meet our zero carbon target, we must all act now.”