As global temperatures continue to increase, councillors have declared a 'climate emergency' in County Durham, and they have committed to investigating what it will take to make County Durham carbon neutral. A new target of being 60% carbon neutral by 2030 was adopted after councillors passed a motion on Wednesday, 20th February 2019. They have also agreed to explore what is required to become 100% carbon neutral by 2050. 

Following many years of carbon reduction within the local authority and lobbying by groups such as Extinction Rebellion, this new carbon neutral ambition has been influenced and supported by Durham’s involvement in the REBUS project.  The new Climate Response Plan and associated projects will be included in Durham’s REBUS implementation plan, specifically the plans to develop retrofitting of buildings to be heated by mine-water and the new schools Enlighten LED lighting retrofit proposals.  

Working with partner agencies, Durham has pledged to determine the best methods to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius – the figure agreed by the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change and recommended by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

This includes identifying opportunities for innovation, developing clean industries and a green economy, and ensuring the county has the proper infrastructure in place to deliver on these new targets. 

Cllr. Carl Marshall, County Durham’s Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, is in full support: "As a council we have already proven our commitment in this area, with projects such as the Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) and our extensive street lighting LED replacement programme.’’ 

Cllr. Marshall went on to say, "It is important that we take responsibility for our environment, protect our planet and ensure that we leave the county a better place for our children. Together with our partners we will be working on our Carbon Reduction Strategy, which will set out exactly what it will take to make the county cleaner and greener for generations to come." 

County Durham has already surpassed the 2020 climate targets, having achieved a 42% reduction in CO2 emissions, and continues to demonstrate foresight and leadership when it comes to addressing climate change. Further sessions with senior leaders from across the Council will be taking place during May 2019 to identify other opportunities on discuss how the Council can influence residents, businesses and landowners to invest in a low carbon future.   

A report will be made to the full council within six months outlining the actions the council will need to achieve to meet the new 2030 target, and to become carbon neutral by 2050.

DCC Cllr. John Clare (DCC Cabinet Support Member for Economy and Regeneration) and Maggie Bosanquet (DCC Low Carbon Economy Team Leader) 

Click link below to read Durham County Council article 'We commit to climate change improvements'