Thoughts on PCC’s Climate Emergency response

My thoughts on PCC’s report to be debated tomorrow.

Significant partners in the city will be asked to sign-up to the Climate Emergency declaration

Without enforcement, that means very little.

Previous work undertaken on the organisation’s carbon reduction plan will be refreshed to ensure that this is aspirational, realistic and covers the full breadth of PCC’s activity

This only accounts for a small proportion of emissions, so PCC should be careful not to be sidetracked here. I know they have a role in setting a good example but that effect is probably too slow to be significant.

Ensure that the refreshed carbon reduction plan includes specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely targets, which can be monitored regularly and reported on an annual basis

Measuring the situation is good, but we need action to reduce emissions at this stage.

[…] identify asks, in terms of additional powers and specific funding, that will be pursued with ministers and with other organisations

That is fine, but we need a change in policy. Additional powers and funding are only useful when wisely used.

[…] facilitate the development of a Portsmouth Climate Change Board in support of this work, with a specific role to develop community engagement.

That is good but won’t directly reduce CO2 emissions.

The proposals set out in section 4 represent a comprehensive programme to implement this measure in Portsmouth, within the local authority and with partners and residents.

Section 4 is not a comprehensive programme. It is says PCC plans to introduce targets, ask for more powers and funding but says nothing about how it plans to change, specifically on policy. PCC can exert significant influence by updating its planning policy to focus on sustainable solutions. That means no more road building (at least for fossil fuelled private transport).

PCC seems to have forgotten how to write a realistic plan. We need a list of measures, with the amount of CO2 reduction predicted for each measure, and evidence to back up their prediction. The total predicted reduction needs to get to net zero by 2030. Without that, the plan is just wishful thinking – which we have seen time and time again from PCC on air quality. We need measures that are actually likely to succeed, not just work that makes PCC look good.

Suggested improvements:

  • Commit to reviewing all council policies that impact CO2 emissions. I’m particularly thinking of planning. We have planned ourselves into a car centric city and we need new thinking to get out of this mess. All council functions need to be reviewed to check they can be accessed by sustainable transport. (e.g. Paulsgrove Recycling Centre can only practically be accessed by car? a post sorting office in an industrial estate?)
  • No new activities or planning proposals to be approved that have a net increase in CO2 emissions, until a workable city wide plan has been created. The last thing is for the situation to get any worse.
  • All new activities and planning proposals should have a CO2 impact report. Many proposals slip through because they have a “negligible” impact, but cumulatively they do have an impact.
  • Creation of a quantified and evidenced plan that will meet the 2030 deadline (or sooner), particularly for energy supply, transport and domestic emissions.

It is proposed that officer time is found from within existing resource, and an initial start-up budget of £20,000 allocated to this

We are facing an emergency that threatens to destroy the city by sea level rises and will probably kill hundreds of millions of people globally (and many locally from heat waves). I’m not sure that allocation is really taking the situation seriously.

PS Nick spotted the cover sheet has “Key decision:No”. What could be more of a key decision?

Update: Kelly Nash (PCC Corporate Performance Manager) presents report
Paula Savage’s deputation
Nick Sebley’s deputation (XR Portsmouth)
Judith Smyth’s deputation (Labour councillor)
Dave Ashmore (Environment and Climate Change)
Lee Hunt (Community Safety) (the worse speech of the day!)
Rob Wood (Children and Families)
Darren Sanders (Housing)
Suzy Horton (Education)
Matthew Winnington (Health)
Lynne Stagg (Transport)
Discussion about the amendment
Moving on to other business

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Detail of Portsmouth CO2 Emissions

In the previous chart, it is hard to see what specifically is causing CO2 emissions. It only shows broad categories. Fortunately that data is available!

The lines reported every year are Portsmouth specific. The lines with less data points are national data. I’ve combined several smaller sources into an “other” category which includes: C. Large Industrial Installations, D. Industrial and Commercial Other Fuels, E. Agriculture, H. Domestic ‘Other Fuels’, L. Diesel Railways, M. Transport Other, N. LULUCF Net Emissions. The chart shows the main contributors.

The main reduction of CO2 emissions is clearly from electricity generation from industrial, commercial and domestic sectors. In fact, domestic gas is almost the number one contributor (and given the data is from 2016 it is likely to be the number 1 by now). The reduction in CO2 from generation is probably due to schemes that reduce demand for electricity and switching to renewable (or less polluting) fuel sources.

What is also evident from the chart is CO2 from transport is roughly constant for all modes of transport. This needs to be brought down quickly in order to achieve climate goals. The main contributor is road traffic, including minor roads, A roads and motorways. We need to tackle our car dependency if we are to get to net zero carbon. The question now is does Portsmouth City Council have a credible plan to tackle emissions from road transport and domestic gas use?

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Portsmouth CO2 Emissions

I’m starting a blog for my research into data sets and government policy, particularly when relevant to Portsmouth. I’ll start with CO2 emissions for Portsmouth, since the city council recently passed a climate emergency motion.

This data is specific for Portsmouth, except for “Aviation, Shipping, etc” since that was not allocated to local areas in the original data. Aviation and Shipping are based on the UK average, which is not very accurate as Portsmouth is a busy port, but are included as a rough guide. As can be seen, the CO2 emissions have greatly decreased from industrial, commercial and domestic sources. Transport has had a modest decrease but remained mostly stagnant for the last few years. It is now the 2nd largest source of CO2 since domestic use has dropped to 3rd place. Forestry and other areas (abbreviated LULUCF) provides a tiny negative contribution. The council has set a target of 2030 to reach carbon neutral, so we have some way to go!

I’ll post a more detailed graph soon, with more types of CO2 sources. Source of the data is the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

While the above chart includes power generation and fuel use, it does not include the CO2 used in the products we import. Much of that CO2 gets released in China and around the world.

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