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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