How do you build a new greener social, economic and environmental operating system at a local authority level? One small step at a time but with an unrelenting focus on the bigger picture of why these small steps matter.
That larger vision starts with the Climate Change Act, which commits the UK to being net zero by 2050. The trajectory of progress along the route map to that goal is monitored by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) through regular updates; the recent sixth carbon budget report being one of these. The majority of Council’s now have climate change declarations, which set out the scale of their ambitions, with many now having action plans in place to commence operationalising their drive towards carbon neutrality.
Most in local government are committed to the achievement of the aspirations behind tackling climate change but want to know what they need to do within their own service area. The five pillars outlined in the CCC report for action by local government buildings; transport; waste; land use; and electricity generation are a useful lens to look at this through.
Sports and Leisure services is an area of activity which has faced huge challenges over the course of the current pandemic and recovery of participant levels in physical activity to pre-covid levels may prove a tough nut to crack. However, does this moment give us an opportunity to fundamentally revisit the council role in what was already a rapidly changing market place anyway?
In terms of buildings, are ageing carbon guzzling facilities, which require major reinvestment, really fit for the next generation or is it time to reshape, repurpose and rationalise to meet the needs of tomorrow in a greener way.
Can modern facilities act more as hubs to provide not only a haven for indoor sport but also a starting point for more outdoor cycling, walking and play. Can their car parks be used for charging infrastructure, EV clubs or hire of electric bikes? Can the land around them be used for renewable energy generation to offset carbon from important community assets like swimming pools? Can we reduce unnecessary waste at mass participation events?
Tackling climate change is becoming increasingly fundamental to everything we do and each of us has a significant role to play if we are going to reach what are very challenging targets, knowing how your service can make a contribution to the overarching objective of net zero is a good starting point for action.