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Agenda item

Responding To The Climate Emergency - Developing A Carbon Budget For Sheffield



The Council received a presentation from Dr Jaise Kuriakose, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change and Research and Mark Whitworth, interim Head of Sustainability, Sheffield City Council. Dr Kuriakose outlined that to respond to climate change, action was required to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Carbon budgets set policy for restricting Co2 emissions from energy use in electricity, heating, transport and industry.




The report of the Tyndall Centre had been circulated to Members, together with a report of the Executive Director, Place. It set out climate change targets for Sheffield and provided advisory budgets for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, from the energy system for 2020 to 2100. Those targets were derived from the commitments enshrined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.




The Tyndall Centre’s approach took international carbon budgets and then split them down to national (UK) and sub-national levels (city or city-region). The resultant ‘Carbon budget’ was the maximum carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with energy use in Sheffield that could be emitted to meet this commitment.  This commitment was then translated into: a long-term carbon budget for Sheffield; a sequence of recommended five-year carbon budgets; and a date of ‘near zero’/zero carbon for the city.




Based on that analysis, for Sheffield to make its ‘fair’ contribution towards the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the report made recommendations, which Dr Kuriakose outlined in his presentation.




Responses were made to questions from members of the public, as follows:




Regarding measures being put in place to reduce emissions to meet the net zero target and the increasing proportion of emissions being from transport, it was understood that the proportion of emissions from Transport had increased to 28 percent. In relation to electricity, through national grid decarbonisation and an increase in renewables, there had been decrease in the amount of carbon produced from energy generation.




The Council was in consultation and working in conjunction with City region in preparing a bid for the Department of Transport which was for the transforming cities fund to support buses, walking and cycling infrastructure investment and which would support the reduction of carbon emissions in the city.  As identified in the recent transport strategy, more work needed to be undertaken in the light of the declaration of a climate emergency regarding how the Transport Strategy would respond to the findings from the Tyndall Centre and subsequent work.




With regard to the Tyndall report and details of the actions in terms of reductions and how they will be decided,  at this stage, the report had only just been received so the actions in terms of how those savings might be delivered had yet to be worked through.  That would be part of the process around developing a plan and working through the citizens' assembly and with stakeholders to develop those proposals.




In connection with the initial steps that the Council could take immediately, as outlined by the Sheffield Climate Alliance, and as to whether any steps had been taken regarding those suggestions, the support of the Sheffield Climate Alliance was acknowledged and dialogue could also be made at regular meetings including the Climate Alliance or in writing.  As regards energy, the Council had switched its electricity supply to a fully renewable tariff.




In relation to developing a carbon literacy programme, the Government was looking to nationally roll out a programme that had been successfully developed in Manchester. The Council was having conversations as to how Sheffield might be involved in that, including as a pilot and also the opportunities to use that approach in Sheffield.




Further in relation to sustainable transport there had been other cycle investment infrastructure investment in areas such as Portobello and also with the new heart of the city in Tudor Square along with other infrastructure as part of those developments.




Proposals that had been put forward relating to a Citizens' Assembly would be part of the solution in making sure that there was engagement across the city from wide range of people as well as taking a fully inclusive approach to developing the plan.




In respect of the question regarding net zero carbon insulation and as to what would be the cost and timescales and the partners for an insulation programme to bring buildings up to SAP B, that information was not to hand. However, given the scale of the challenge and some of the opportunities to de-carbonise, this was something that needed to be explored.




For the Council’s housing stock, 40 thousand homes in the city have been insulated in a programme to bring those homes up to

some equivalent of SAP Part C.




Councillor Lewis Dagnall, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change,  responded to the question concerning a cross party working group and said there need to be different forms of democracy, including the deliberative form of the citizen’s assembly, an ongoing dialogue between elected representatives and the people they represent, different parties setting out different visions and putting these to people and the Council’s cross party Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee which could keep track of the work being done.




He said that the questions from the public also helped to set out the debate as to how the City could be set on a trajectory where it would not spend its carbon budget within the next six years and would instead become carbon neutral. It was thought that the approach should include having a Citizens Assembly and identifying the different sectors in the City and the reductions they would need to make.




Questions were asked and comments made by Members of the Council in relation to the report and presentation, and responses were given, as summarised below:




Questions were asked in relation to the approach to the carbon emissions budget and targets, emissions from shipping and aviation; reducing single use plastic and school initiatives; the extent to which there was a plan of action and proposals, such as in respect of transport, solar energy and insulation.




Responses were made that shipping and aviation within carbon budgets was dealt with at a national level and any increase in carbon use would have an impact on local carbon budge. It was important to have discussions with the government regarding plans concerning emissions from aviation and shipping. Collaboration and engagement would be required with stakeholders due to the scale of shipping and aviation.




It was very important to move away from the use of single-use plastic and there were a range of benefits and opportunities. Looking at such problems collectively and working across the city was fundamental as was engagement of every sector to help contribute and initiatives such as with single use plastics working through schools were part of that picture.




Avoiding single use plastics meant fewer emissions from industry which manufactured plastics, transporting plastic to the end users and in waste and recycling. More understanding was needed as to the different types of plastics, which were essential and as to the manufacturing process.




There would be a process to work through when the carbon budget had been identified in understanding where opportunities were within the city and which might vary from one location to another. In terms of actions, some of the approaches which are outlined in the question would be explored together with what the opportunities were and if there were pressing issues that needed to be addressed.Local knowledge was vital in achieving the maximum reduction in emissions and that that should be open to commercial partners, NGOs, Third Sector, academia and policymakers all of which had to be engaged and included and all would have their own action to deliver.




Questions were asked regarding energy efficient buses and a public transport system, integrated with other modes of transport; obtaining a picture of what the future might look like and relating issues to the public; the Tyndall Centre speaking with businesses and an explanation of the concept of ‘grandfathering’ and why it was seen as a good idea.




With regards what the zero carbon city looks like, work by other cities included transition to both electric vehicles including electric buses, electricity from renewable sources and a reduction in the number of vehicle movements in the city and other roads, such as motorways, so it was a local issue and also something to discuss with national government and other agencies. Part of the work to be done was to understand the impact and changes. The Tyndall Centre had been supporting organisations in relation to Greater Manchester to develop understanding.




That understanding needed to be put in a form that people understood including what they might do to contribute towards reducing the carbon footprint. The City was starting from a good base and there were good examples from a range of organisations that were already delivering and supporting activities. Working with businesses was an important part of the city’s approach.  




An explanation was provided of the concept of Grandfathering, which referred to past or recent emissions. The average of the annual emissions from 2011 to 2016 was used and compared to the UK emissions. Using more recent figures would make the approach not applicable but it did work broadly in the UK and within that timeframe. This approach was also tested by looking at a range of other local authorities with different characteristics, relating to population, income distribution, economic activity etc.




Questions were asked concerning climate change and the local plan for housing, including infrastructure such as water, energy and transport on potential brownfield or greenfield development sites; whether information for Sheffield’s emissions by sector were based on actual data; the actions which the Council could take which would have maximum impact; provision of parking spaces and the need for immediate action.




The work to develop the evidence base and in relation to opportunities would need to take into account some of the issues raised relating to new housing development. For example, the Council was already engaged in work to look at opportunities for use of hydrogen and options for new developments if natural gas was phased out; and similarly for opportunities to de-carbonise.




Action was needed on all different levels in relation to transport and to think differently about the mobility of passengers and goods, how we deliver goods and engage with business to bring about innovative models and solutions.




The data regarding Sheffield’s emission by sector came from the government Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy and was publically available. 




In terms of what Sheffield could do to reduce the emissions, there might be activity such as installing solar panels or wind turbines, although it was the National Grid emissions that dictated the emissions from the electricity sector. There might also be engagement with the distribution network operators and National Grid along with renewable energy installations. The Council had some control in relation to fuels burned within the city boundary and discussions could be held with business and industry about action to reduce emissions. Collaborating with others was probably the best way forward.




In relation to how we make decisions now and actions that need to start immediately, there was engagement with the University of Sheffield in relation to using the United Nations sustainable development goals and how they might be applied in appraising decisions or looking at strategies and how they contribute to those international goals and translating those to a local level to understand what they mean for the city and its citizens. There was also a need for a conversation internally about developing some of that thinking and the sort of measures which needed to be put in place to enable decisions now to be cognisant of the climate emergency as well as developing a plan that starts to mobilise some of the additional actions that were needed.




Questions were asked concerning air quality and related measures and monitoring; whether the rise in Co2 might as much be a result of global warming; and with regard to prioritising steps to reduce carbon emissions over economic growth.




In relation to clean air and alongside the current consultation on the clean air zone, there was work being done with the University on a wider deployment of sensors around the City to build up a better picture and understanding and give a better position from which to respond. There was also a project with community volunteers building and installing sensors and further work was being done to check data from that project with the University’s data.




Proposals relating to the clean air zone were expected to have wider impacts and benefits. There was also infrastructure change required to be delivered through programmes such as the transforming cities fund, for which a bid had been submitted. There was also work on issues including wider resilience and adapting to change as well as mitigating impact on the environment.




The earth had witnessed climate change before but it was a question of the extent and the magnitude of the change that was happening. The increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the change in temperature that was being seen now was unprecedented. The effects of that change were still being evaluated but there was a cascading effect where one failure would led to a further failure and the impact was severe in terms of the effect on biodiversity, life, health and the economy etc. and was set in the context of a large human population and civilisation.




There was a release of carbon dioxide because of the ice melting and the increase of concentration of carbon dioxide was actually contributing to warming and that melted some of the ice and released permafrost and methane. So, there was a cascade effect which accelerated the warming and was considered to be quite severe, if all of the different effects were considered.




In relation to the prioritisation of reducing carbon emissions over economic growth, such a question might be addressed and debated in a wider forum such as the citizens' assembly. Understanding the potential wider effects as outlined and also having a bigger picture around what the city could do and the related implications was part of that debate.




Questions were asked concerning cycling and the contribution of journeys made by cycling to the city becoming carbon neutral; and the percentage of carbon emissions for which the Council was responsible.




Further questions were asked regarding whether the quickening of change would affect the carbon budget; the significance of limiting temperature growth to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and if there should also be a focus on other pollutants; and local procurement.  




Additional questions were put concerning whether other greenhouse gases such as methane should also be considered; and if there should be initiatives to grow the local food economy, including new business start-ups in the agricultural sector in rural areas and action in relation to overgrown allotments.




Questions were asked as to how we might measure success in the way progress was measured; and it was important to recognise other environmental crises, such as species depletion and soil depletion and other events which might happen such as floods, droughts, food shortages and health issues and how this might be built into decision making.




Responses were made to the above questions, as follows:




It was explained that information relating to the Transport Strategy was based upon the Department for Transport propensity to cycle tool. The aspiration was to increase the share of journeys made by cycle to the city centre from approximately 3 percent to 15 percent. For the city as a whole, the aspiration was from approximately 2 percent to 12 percent.




The estimated reduction in CO2 of that shift, as portion of the road transport share was estimated at between 1 and 3 percent of road transport.  This presented part of the challenge in relation to transport as there was unlikely to be a neat solution based on modal shift to any mode. The issue was probably not about facilitating more transport by any mode but how the city could be planned so people could travel less by any mode.




The model recommended reviewing the carbon budget on a five yearly basis to take changes into account, including if the situation was worsening or to understand the effect of national or international action, such as for aviation or shipping. The current budget was between 1.5 and 1.7 degrees and it was probably not realistic to achieve 1.5.  It was important to keep up to date the relevant science and climate modelling and changing policies according to the science at the time.




As to whether this should be limited to CO2 or include all greenhouse gases, whilst this idea had been considered, one reservation was that the six greenhouse gases had different physical and chemical properties and so it would not be recommended to combine them. National government had a greenhouse gas target. How the gases interact in the atmosphere and affected the temperature was different for different gases and gases had a different lifetime and the rate of emission could vary between the different gases. It was therefore considered important to look at C02, which was the majority of all greenhouse gases, and to tackle C02 and the related energy system. However, other greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, also needed to be taken into consideration and reduced as much as possible.




National Government was signed up to the Kyoto Agreement and reported within a framework and on a production basis and the carbon budget for Sheffield was also on a production basis. There was not a clear methodology developed yet on a consumption basis but that needed to be developed as well. The model used was an energy carbon emissions model and whilst it did not include land use and land use changes and the emissions from storage and capture from trees or from other vegetation, there was a need to look at that.




With respect to other issues, such as changes including species depletion and some of the other impacts that were already being experienced, conversations should be had as part of the citizen’s assembly and to have the evidence to understand the risks and clarity in relation to the science, together with the opportunities for Sheffield and to act so as to take the City’s share of the global commitment.




On behalf of the Council, the Lord Mayor (Councillor Tony Downing) thanked Dr Jaise Kuriakose and Mark Whitworth for their presentation and for responding to Members’ questions.




(NOTE: During the discussion on the above item of business, it was -  RESOLVED: On the motion of Councillor Mark Jones and seconded by Councillor Mike Drabble, that the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 5.5 be suspended and the termination of the meeting be extended by a period of up to 30 minutes, to 6.00 p.m. maximum.)