Update from the Climate Emergency Working Group

Update from the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Climate Emergency Working Group - December 2020

This year has been a challenge for everyone, and for the Council this certainly has been true. But despite the Council working hard on the Coronavirus pandemic our Climate Emergency Working Group has continued to meet regularly, working to reduce the carbon footprint of the organisation. The ultimate aim is to become a zero carbon organisation by 2030, which is a challenge but one that all Councillors are committed to.

The first task is to work out what our current carbon footprint is, and where the largest sources of emissions are. Our carbon footprint report 2019-2020 will be published soon, but the preliminary findings are that there are three main sources of carbon emissions - from electricity, heating oil and diesel use in vehicles.

Knowing this enables us to target actions and policies appropriately to reduce our carbon emissions as quickly as possible. Picking off the ‘low hanging fruit’ in carbon terms is a good place to start, where you can get maximum impact for minimum effort or cost. The first low hanging fruit will be a switch to a 100% renewable electricity tariff for the whole of the Council, from March 2021. This is an action that anyone can do, should be quite straightforward and may not actually cost more. We would encourage everyone to consider this.

The pandemic has changed working practices for the Council fundamentally. As with many organisations and businesses, home working, video calls and massively reduced travel are now the norm. What this looks like longer term we’re not quite sure yet, but we almost certainly won’t be going back to working practices like we had prior to March 2020. This new way of working also lowers our carbon footprint, so we will hopefully see significant benefits coming through in our 2020 carbon footprint report.

The longer term challenges are ones like:

  • Making our buildings energy efficient
  • Replacing our vehicle fleet away from diesel towards electric 
  • Travelling between islands and to the mainland in a low carbon way.

These are not easy, but challenges we are engaging with, as long-term changes require long-term planning.

Our other main achievement recently has been building a good working relationship with Cornwall Council’s Climate Emergency team. Whilst their team is much better resourced than ours, they are very willing to share advice and expertise. We have looked at a number of ways to partner together on projects and initiatives. Hopefully this gives you a flavour of what the Climate Emergency team have been doing this year, and there will be more to share over coming months. 

Meanwhile if you have any questions, comments or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact us at jonathan.smith@scilly.gov.uk or steve.watt@scilly.gov.uk. We would welcome your input.

Publishing date: 
Tuesday, 15 December, 2020