Action on climate change begins at home for Essex as scale of the challenge is outlined
Politics / Sun 7th Nov 2021 at 03:19pm
ESSEX’S Climate Change Czar has set out the scale and urgency of the climate change challenge to Essex County Council’s Cabinet Members during the week of the critical COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Cllr Peter Schwier told cabinet members and senior officers that Essex’s current emissions of CO2 amounted to 7 million metric tonnes – 1.7% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions – but that the opportunities for reductions across the county were clear.
He said: “There are 800,000 cars in Essex – but a quarter (24%) of the journeys we make in them are under two miles.
“If every car owner in Essex did just one less one-mile journey by car that alone would save 13,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
“The key area of challenge is transport – with our ports and airports and HGV traffic, this accounts for 27% of CO2 emissions. We are still too reliant on fossil fuels, which accounts for 21%. Essex is ahead of the national average in terms of carbon reduction, which is good news, but we don’t have the challenge of pollution from heavy industry to contend with.”
Cabinet members outlined how the Council’s own strategy for achieving net-zero would focus on the built environment, travel, waste and preserving and enhancing our natural environment.
Leader of the Council Cllr Kevin Bentley said: “On the day that COP26 leaders promised to reverse deforestation by 2030, we were reminded today that the Essex Forest Initiative, which last year planted 38,750 trees across the county on the way to 1 million, working with the city, district and borough councils, by 2025, has exceeded its initial targets by 13,750.
“COP26 is global in focus but action on climate change has to take place locally and we are determined to continue to make progress – small steps perhaps initially but all the time, changing the way we work to reduce carbon and stem climate change.
“The scale of change required is clear – we need to reduce our emissions by 50% over the next four years if we are to be carbon-neutral by 2030. We need every council service area to consider its impact on the environment, as well as the contribution it can make to helping everyone adopt pro-climate behaviours. That is why action on climate change is so central in Everyone’s Essex, our plan for levelling up the county.
“There will be important announcements in the coming weeks which will signal more progress towards our goals.”
Harlow is an example of how poor Essex has been and yet the county and Cllr Benetly continue to make the same transport mistakes. It started when the M11 was built on the wrong side of town, then at about £900 million if not more a series of works on the A414 starting with Hastingwood dual carriageway, then Hamburger Roundabout, then Clocktower Roundabout works, then Gates roundabout and Edinburgh Way each failing to solve the fundamental problem, now being followed by Gilden Way and further congestion and in the near future if Harlow Cllrs make the wrong decision on 17th November £74 million on an Eastern Crossing that will have an embodied carbon footprint of 19.7 million kg of emissions per year before a single car travels on it each year that will cause more congestion pollution and in addition, devastate the tranquility and wildlife of Stort River Valley. A great shame especially when there are far greener and less costly alternatives that actually align with the original vision and design upon which Sir Frederick Gibberd designed the Garden Town, a vision that is highly relevant in the light of Climate change and the 74 years of progress in green technology we could have been using instead of continuing to repeat the same strategy that repeatedly fails. Planting trees with one hand and recklessly building with the other isn't the answer.
Novoman makes many relevant comments regarding ECC & HDC spending on projects that will never contribute to a greener environment hereabouts. At a more domestic level, I have noticed that Harlow Council are busy spending our money on providing yet more car parking spaces at the Latton Bush Centre, Southern Way. They have removed a grassed area and remodelled other sites within the property so as to provide these spaces. This not cheap. Given that both ECC & HDC have nailed their colours to the "green" mast, would it not have been greener to have: 1) improved the current cycle parking facilities at the centre? They look like they been there since it was a school. The bike shelter is mainly used as a smokers retreat! 2) To have spent some of that cash on improving the crossing facility for pedestrians and cyclists on Southern Way. Not difficult as none exists at present on this busy highway. 3) do a travel plan for the workers at the Centre; this might encourage workers out of their cars. I write this as a cyclist, pedestrian and driver who is very sceptical our local authorities claimed green credentials.