On 22nd May 2019, Derby City Council declared a Climate Emergency in the city. The decision was unanimous across all parties, at the Council’s AGM.
The council was asked to to:
- Establish a Derby Climate Change working group to respond to this challenge
- Consider recommendations from the proposed working group, and set a target for Derby to be carbon neutral
- Work with other local authorities and public, private and voluntary sector partners on carbon reduction projects to ensure the UK is able to deliver on its climate commitments
- Ensure the Government provides the necessary resources and powers so that Derby can make its contribution to the UK’s Carbon Reduction targets
Derby is one of nearly 90 councils in the UK that have passed climate emergency motions so far. In May 2019, the UK Parliament followed the lead of these local councils, unanimously approving a motion to declare a climate emergency and calling on the Government to increase its ambition to adopt more ambitious targets for reaching net zero emissions.
As a local authority we will determine how we rise to this challenge – that means taking stock of where we are now, and where we need to be. Work on that has already begun, but in order for this target to be achievable, everyone across our city must come together to work towards this common goal.
The task is monumental, but to help in safeguarding our planet, it’s necessary.
What is climate change?
'Climate change' refers to changes in the earth's climate that are caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases cause the earth to heat up, which affects global weather patterns, sea levels and the frequency of extreme weather events. Human activities have contributed to increasing levels of greenhouse gases - especially the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, which release CO2 into the atmosphere.
In order to reduce the challenges posed by climate change, we must reduce the amount of CO2 carbon dioxide) we produce. This can be achieved by making simple changes to our day to day lives, like using less energy, driving less and recycling more.
We also need to prepare for the changes in our climate (adaptation) and by taking positive action we can take advantage of opportunities.
How could climate change affect the East Midlands?
In the most recent State of the UK Climate 2017 report, trends show that the UK climate is continuing to warm and that sea levels continue to rise. But what does that mean?
- We will be experiencing summers that are 2.5ºC warmer, with daily summer highs 3.3ºC warmer. This is about the same difference as you would expect to see between Glasgow and London on an average August day.
- Our winters will be milder with the average temperatures being 2.2°C warmer.
- There may be a 16% decrease in summer rainfall making our summers much drier.
- Winters will be wetter with an average of 14% more rainfall.
- Mean sea level around the UK has risen by about 16cm since the start of the 20th century.
For more information, visit the UK Climate Projections website.
What is the Council doing about climate change?
Several years ago, we developed a Climate change strategy and Climate Change Strategy summary to address the climate change impacts of our activities. A lot has changed since this was developed, and while we are working to this strategy it’s in need of a refresh.
We continue to look every day at ways in which we can reduce our carbon emissions through auditing our own estates and services, domestic properties, transport and industry.
Reducing carbon emissions
As a local authority we report on greenhouse gas emissions and work is carried out across the Council to reduce emissions from our estate and operations.
Our carbon footprint is generated by monitoring our carbon emissions, taking into account:
- office buildings and schools energy use
- fleet vehicles and employees' business travel at work
- street lighting
- energy use and travel data from contractors which provide services to, or on behalf of, the Council.
|Tonnes of CO₂e|
|Total annual emissions (tonnes of CO2e)||42904||40198||42033||30608|
|Intensity management (tonnes of CO2e each employee)||5.3||5||5.3||4.1|
These greenhouse gas emission figures are calculated based on guidance provided by Defra.
Emissions that have decreased from the baseline year include those from:
- outsourced contractors: 78%
- energy consumption: 46.5%
- waste disposal (from educational establishments): 38%
- business travel: 16%
- waste disposal (internally generated): 5%
- owned transport: 3%
Overall analysis of the greenhouse gas emission data shows a continued decline in CO2 levels each year since 2008-09. This has lead to the lowest recorded annual CO2 levels in 2011-12 with a decline of 29% from the baseline level of 42904 tonnes of CO₂e in 2008-09 to 30608 tonnes of CO₂e in 2011-12.
For more detail on these figures please see the Greenhouse Gas Emission Report.
For information on what the government is doing to reduce UK's carbon emissions, visit The Department of Energy and Climate Change website.
How is the Council adapting services to tackle climate change?
It is important for us to to consider how we will adapt to future changes in our climate. This will allow us to both minimise the potential of harmful impacts and take advantage of any beneficial impacts.
Harmful impacts can include heatwaves in Derby like we experienced in 2003, or the severe snow experienced in 2010.
Beneficial impacts can include a boost to tourism or growing new food crops that require a longer, warmer growing season.
So far we have:
- produced a Local Climate Impacts Profile (LCLIP) for Derby. This shows how severe weather events have affected us between 2000 and 2008
- conducted a climate risk assessment for each of our services to determine the severity of risks and potential opportunities that will arise as a result of climate change
- done research with partners throughout the East Midlands to assess the risks and find out more about the changes we could make to reduce those risks
- organised free events and workshops on adapting to a changing climate
- produced a service level Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan
- incorporated climate change issues within our key documents.
More information is available in our:
What is Well Adapting East Midlands?
We have taken part in a regional programme called Well Adapting East Midlands (WAEM). This project looked at ways that we, and our partners, can become more resilient to extreme weather and better adapt to the future climate.
As part of this we have produced a case study of one of Derby's key risk area, flooding. This details what plans are in place to improve flood defences along the river Derwent as it passes through the city.
Find out more on how we are preparing the city for extreme flooding events.
How can I get more information on climate change and what I can do to help?
For more information and facts on climate change, visit:
- GOV.UK - Find out about the causes and impacts of climate change and what international governments are doing about it. Learn how you can reduce your contribution to climate change.
- The Met Office - climate change - Including a climate change guide, news, policy and reference to other sources of information.
For information and advice on climate change adaptation, visit:
- Defra - The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Environment Agency
- UK Climate Impacts Programme
- Climate East Midlands
For information on what the government is doing to adapt to climate change, visit:
For information on what you can do to reduce your carbon emissions, visit:
- our Home Energy Advice Service page
- Energy Saving Trust - Independent advice and information on energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.
- Everybody's Talking about climate change - Get advice and practical information about taking action on climate change in your community
- Carbon Trust or Business Link - environment and efficiency - Find out how your workplace can reduce carbon emissions
- Eco Schools - Find out how your school can reduce carbon emissions.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has set a target to bring down carbon emissions to 20% by 2050. Why not try their 2050 tool and see if you can find a way to meet this target? You can even send your result to DECC and be part of the conversation.