The record-breaking extreme heatwave that hit France recently is the latest warning sign of the major changes to our planet’s climate caused by global warming, writes Ipswich Council Leader, David Ellesmere.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that if the planet warms by 1.5 degrees Celcius there will be devastating consequences, such as the loss of most coral reefs and more extreme weather such as heatwaves and floods. We are actually currently heading for 3-4C warming.
Even to keep to the “devastating” 1.5 degrees C requires a radical shift in how our society operates over an extremely short time period.
This is why governments and councils – including Ipswich Borough Council this month – declared a “Climate Emergency” and committing to produce, and act on, a plan to reduce their carbon footprint to zero. In Ipswich’s case the deadline we are setting ourselves is 2030.
Ipswich has had a carbon reduction programme since 2008.
We have spent £12m improving the energy efficiency of council homes, including the installation of energy efficient condensing boilers and improving the insulation in thousands of properties.
We have delivered a large number of energy efficiency projects such as the installation of a pool cover at Fore Street Pool to cut heating bills and replacing existing lighting in council buildings with energy efficient LED lighting.
We have installed solar panels at 10 sheltered housing schemes and Crown and Fore Street swimming pools, as well as on our new council houses.
All this effort has reduced our carbon emissions by around 36% over the last ten years.
So, no one should underestimate how difficult carbon neutrality will be to achieve. We need to reduce the council’s emissions at roughly twice the rate we have achieved so far.
We will continue to do what we can within our own resources.
Last week we unveiled our latest new electric vehicles. As well as their carbon benefits they are cheaper to run, cheaper to maintain and will help to improve air quality.
But hitting the 2030 deadline will almost certainly require additional powers and finance from the Government, especially if we are going to protect public services and the most vulnerable members of society during our transition to a zero-carbon economy.