Dozens of immediate actions to tackle the Climate Emergency are highlighted in a one-year plan approved today by the Labour-run Liverpool City Region Combined Authority which includes St Helens Borough.
The Year One Climate Action Plan was drawn up to ensure ‘opportunities for early action are not missed’ as the city region strives to become zero-carbon by 2040.
The Combined Authority declared a Climate Emergency in June 2019 and set an ambitious goal to become carbon neutral ten years ahead of the UK target.
Numerous environmental schemes are already underway and many more are planned as the city region seeks to Build Back Greener from the coronavirus pandemic. The Combined Authority’s aim is for a ‘climate in all policies’ approach.
The Year One Climate Action Plan reveals emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide reduced by 40% in the Liverpool City Region between 2005 and 2018.
Industrial and domestic discharges fell significantly but transport emissions, while lower than in 2005, have risen since 2013. The number of miles travelled by motor vehicles also increased in the three years up to 2019 – with cars accounting for the largest share.
As a result, transport and clean air schemes feature prominently in the comprehensive 82-point plan. Waste, infrastructure and sustainable energy projects are also included along with policy, planning and collaboration.
Steve Rotheram, Labour Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “The pandemic might have dominated our attention over the past year, but the climate emergency remains the biggest long-term challenge our region – and our planet – faces. Since I was elected, I’ve made tackling climate change a priority.
We were the first combined authority in the country to declare a climate emergency, have invested millions in green projects and have developed ambitious plans to be zero carbon by 2040 – a whole decade ahead of national targets. But I want to go further.
This plan sets out the things we’re doing to tackle climate change and improve the environment in our area over the next twelve months. We still have a long way to go but this will be a big first step.”
Speaking at the meeting, St Helens Borough Council Leader David Baines said: “I’m very happy to support this important item – I think it shows very clearly that Labour take this issue seriously and that together we’re making good progress.
In St Helens, next week my cabinet and I will be agreeing the establishment of a multi-agency Climate Change Commission for the Borough, with an independent expert chair, a new Climate Change Champion as co-chair, and backed by the creation of a Climate Change officer post to develop, lead and coordinate the councils work on this important issue.
The St Helens Climate Change Commission will be an essential strategic partnership forum, through which the council and other key stakeholders will develop, monitor and deliver a range of low carbon, climate resilient projects and initiatives to achieve zero carbon status by 2040.
We’ve also agreed to invest over £1m in the next 3 years in capital projects to help us achieve net carbon zero. I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in St Helens for their commitment to this, in particular Councillors Andy Bowden and Mancyia Uddin.”
Also on the Combined Authority agenda at today’s meeting was confirmation of plans for hydrogen powered buses on routes in St Helens and the region, and the Active Travel Fund through which we will be investing more than £1m in improving cycling and walking routes in our borough.
The Year One Climate Action Plan features projects that will either start, continue or finish during 2021/22 and includes:
- Progressing the Mersey Tidal project
- Purchasing 20 hydrogen fuelled double decker buses
- A campaign to encourage Active Travel
- Completing battery trials on the new, state-of-the art trains for the Merseyrail network
- Identifying ways to help residents move to electric vehicles affordably
- Continued delivery of 52.8km of cycle lanes and habitat improvements
- Investing £11.38m to make around 1,120 homes more energy efficient
- Securing gains in biodiversity through planting and habitat creation and management
- Developing a Zero Waste 2040 strategy including plans to reach 55% re-use and recycling by 2025
The Combined Authority and its partners have already made major strides towards the vision of a globally competitive, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive city region.
These include recent housing strategies and an air quality action plan along with new electric buses, investing £1.26m in low carbon solutions, developing the Mersey Tidal Power project, improvements to the cycling and walking infrastructure, investing £500m in a brand-new fleet of efficient electric trains, introducing hydrogen buses and funding 10 environmental projects through the Combined Authority’s Future Innovation Fund to be completed in 2021.
In February this year, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram also revealed 58 projects that are benefiting from the £500,000 Community Environment Fund.
The Year One Climate Action Plan was developed with the help of Liverpool City Region Climate Partnership and is centred around nine themes that are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Liverpool City Region has also teamed up with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and other local authorities and local enterprise partnerships to set out the north west’s zero-carbon 2040 vision ahead of the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November this year.
The Year One plan is due to start next month with publication of a long-term Climate Action Plan in November.