Before COVID-19 made an unsolicited appearance in our lives and propelled us into great uncertainty, the most prominent concern for our planet was the climate emergency. This remains the greatest social, economic and environmental threat we face, and local authorities are under mounting pressure to create and implement climate emergency action plans to kick-start the road to recovery in their communities.
This is all well and good, but those local authorities that declared a climate emergency and crafted local plans, did so before coronavirus changed life as we knew it. The pandemic has changed the setting significantly, meaning plans that were conceived are having to be re-written. New plans must now be cognisant of the ever-changing circumstances surrounding our lives.
One thing hasn’t changed, and that’s the need for local authorities to know where the starting point is. Knowing the carbon baseline is a fundamental step in assessing the options available to plan and reach net zero carbon and gives obvious clues about where to concentrate effort.
We have worked with several local authorities in the UK to assess and define their carbon footprint and thereafter co-designed a viable roadmap to net zero, in the form a commonly used four step approach:
Minimise energy demand through passive and active measures, including natural ventilation, solar shading and improving thermal mass.
Selecting the most energy-efficient heating and cooling infrastructure, such as a connection to district heating networks or onsite combined heat & power (CHP) engines.
Taking advantage of intelligent renewable resources, such as wind energy and solar power.
Carbon Offset [Redeem]
This should be considered the last option and is the ‘net’ part! Individuals and businesses can purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions.
We work with our partners to assess a range of interventions, while looking at ways to economically deliver projects, such as the recently announced Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
Local authorities, as custodians of place, are in a unique position to lead the way. Acting as civic leaders and addressing their own carbon targets will inspire mass participation in the road to carbon neutrality.
Haydn Scarborough is integrated solutions director at ENGIE UK
For further information on ENGIE, visit the website www.engie.co.uk/places
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