Our response to the Green Commission
SCA has been an active supporter of the Green Commission process over the last two years and we have submitted a positive response to the ‘Green Commitment’ report produced, adding the following comments to emphasise the significance, urgency and scale of climate change mitigation action we believe is needed. Massive thanks to Beatrice Greenfield who acted as our ‘Green Commissioner’. If you would like to be involved in our follow-up work please contact us!
“We agree generally with the vision, priorities and recommendations.
We note that there are no targets set. This is understandable at this stage, given that this is an involved exercise and that making the Green Commitments is the start of a longer process. The City Council does not currently have the human resources to achieve radical changes on its own. It has therefore taken the crucial step of engaging other bodies and organisations within the city in this process. Now, the delivery partners should agree strong leadership and governance arrangements. Specifically, a strong leadership mechanism, an action plan and an accountability mechanism are all required.
On climate change, an idea of the scale of action needed is provided by Government targets – 80% greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2050 and 50% by 2025. (The former is legally binding, the latter a recommendation by the Committee on Climate Change). We should add that we doubt that even these targets are stringent enough to ensure global warming stays within manageable levels, and that the ‘carbon budget’ to 2050 is actually the critical figure. The scale of action necessary is extremely challenging, given current social and political constraints. Thus, we welcome the aims of the report being as ambitious as possible, without becoming unrealistic. We strongly agree with the conclusion that the Green Commission should be the start of a process of how to transform Sheffield. Meanwhile, the recommendations within “Learning City” will assist in enabling improved awareness of and concern for sustainability issues, provided another important feature, is added: We would like to see the city adopting a strategy for disseminating climate change awareness and encouraging feasible and effective behaviour changes by all citizens, whether at home, work or any other context. We are bemused as to why this was left out.
We believe the recommendation that Sheffield should implement a programme based on the Mini-Stern Review is especially important (page 17). The more specific measures recommended within the “Transformative Energy” section would not collectively achieve all the emissions reductions and other aims of a full “Mini-Stern” programme – these are sensible first steps but we urge that a full mini-Stern programme is pursued with urgency.
Delivery partners should recognise the potential for progress to be overshadowed by action taken at national and regional level. For example, if more Sheffield people are persuaded to walk, cycle or use public transport for local journeys, this will mitigate both air pollution and climate change. However, a new road tunnel under the Peak District would generate large volumes of additional traffic so these positive impacts would be more than cancelled out. Thus we hope some delivery partners will press for positive action on “green” issues on a wider level. On this basis, fracking, which will have a wide range of negative environmental impacts and indeed any new fossil fuel extraction, should be opposed.
Sheffield Climate Alliance is not yet making any formal pledges, related to any specific recommendation. We will continue to engage with other partners involved in the Green Commission process and to see how we can best continue to promote and advance its aims and would specifically like to discuss how our network can help hold the Green Commitment leadership to account.”