Dealing with the effects of coronavirus is, rightly, the current focus of the entire public sector.
But the big challenges that were facing Ipswich, Britain and the world before the pandemic have not gone away.
The biggest of these is climate change.
The world is continuing to heat up and action needs to be taken across the planet to cut carbon emissions.
Ipswich Borough Council has had carbon reduction targets since 2008 and has reduced its carbon emissions by 40% in that time. The target we set for 2025 has been met five years early.
We have installed solar panels on sports centres and sheltered housing schemes. Existing council houses have had their insulation increased and all new council houses are constructed to high sustainability standards.
More than twenty carbon reduction projects have been implemented which have reduced energy use across the Council.
We have embarked on a comprehensive programme to replace most of the Council’s vehicle fleet with electric vehicles and installed more than 100 charging points for electric vehicles.
But we now need to step up this work and have set an ambitious target for the Council to become carbon neutral by 2030, with a clear programme to enable this to happen.
From now on, whenever suitable council houses need their roofs repairing, we will install solar panels at the same time, and we will continue to invest in new electric vehicles for the Council, including refuse vehicles from 2023.
We will continue improving insulation and installing lighting sensors in all council buildings and will move to alternative low carbon methods of heating.
We will increase the amount of tree planting and continue our “two-for-one” replacement programme for any tree that is removed on Council land.
There will be a cost to implementing these measures and we will use Government grants wherever they are available, but many projects will save money in the long run.
For example, the Council and our tenants will see lower bills by reducing energy consumption. New electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain than older diesel vehicles.
By taking these necessary steps we can help save the planet and hopefully save money at the same time.