Climate Emergency

Our climate is changing as a result of human activity since the industrial revolution. If we are to avoid the most harmful effects of climate change, such as more extreme weather, warmer summers, wetter winters and increases in sea level, we must take action to reduce our impact on the environment now.

Wealden District Council is committed to protecting and improving our natural environment, reducing our emissions and enhancing quality of life for our residents. Working with our partners, businesses and the community, we are taking action.

On the 24th July 2019, Wealden District Council unanimously approved a motion to declare a Climate Emergency.

Under the Climate Emergency Declaration, the Council committed to work towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 for both the Council’s own operations and the wider Wealden area, and to pursue efforts to bring this date forward if possible.

The Council also resolved to develop an initial evidence-based Climate Emergency Plan that would identify key actions and intervention measures required to meet the net-zero target. This work provides the Council with an understanding of their own carbon emissions baseline, as well as that of the District, and identifies the steps that need to be taken to achieve the decarbonisation target. Cabinet endorsed the final report and action plan in December 2019.

To view the background reports, the declaration and the adopted Climate Emergency Plan, visit:

17th July Cabinet – Responding to the Climate Emergency – Cabinet proposal of motion to Full Council.

24th July Full Council – Climate Emergency Declaration motion approved.

18th December Cabinet – Climate Emergency Plan approved.

You can read our Climate Emergency Plan here.

Our Climate Emergency Plan identifies 43 actions that we can take to respond to the Climate Emergency. The actions cover both things that we can do as a Council to reduce our own emissions, and things that we can influence across the District. Measures fall under four broad categories:

In buildings, it will be necessary to reduce heat and power demands through fabric efficiency improvements and behavioural change. In addition to investing in the existing building stock, this means ensuring that any future development achieves a high standard of energy efficiency to minimise increases in fuel consumption. Long term, all buildings (both new and existing) will need to switch from gas / fossil fuels to low and zero carbon heat sources such as heat pumps.

Increase uptake of Low and Zero Carbon (LZC) technologies and battery storage within the Council’s own stock. This will reduce reliance on fossil fuels and pressure on utility infrastructure, improve security of supply, and mitigate against price fluctuations.

A transformation in the transport sector must take place, reducing vehicle use / mileage through behavioural change. A modal shift will be necessary, along with the replacement of all existing petrol and diesel engine vehicles with low and zero emission vehicles.

In order to offset any remaining CO2e emissions, the Council will need to explore additional measures, such as promoting carbon sequestration through sustainable woodland management or investing in large-scale renewable energy generation.

It is important to note, that carbon offsetting is not enough to achieve the net zero target on its own. Success relies on maximising demand reduction and renewable electricity generation as a high priority.

Emissions

The report sets out baseline carbon emissions data for Wealden as a District, and for the Council. Total net emissions for the District in 2017 were 636 KtCO2e (kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent). Almost half (47%) are from the transport sector. Domestic buildings account for 35% of emissions and non-domestic buildings account for the remaining 18%.

Emissions from Council activities are included in the District figures but only account for around 0.2% of the emissions for the District. We will be working to reduce our own carbon emission alongside taking actions that have a wider impact.

The report also models future emissions for the District and the Council to show how we can achieve Net Zero by 2050. The modelling shows that we cannot achieve our goals through one approach alone. We will need to work across multiple pathways, and with a wide range of partners, to successfully deliver Net Zero.

Graph showing projected CO2e emissions for Wealden District under different 'pathway' options. Under business as usual, emissions will continue to increase. The graph shows 5 levels of action we could take to reduce emissions, with the most ambitious pathway reducing emissions to near zero by 2050.

Potential decarbonisation paths for Wealden District.

Achieving our targets will require some national changes – a shift in government policy, grid decarbonisation and technological advances will all be required if we are to achieve Net Zero. Carbon capture, storage and sequestration will also form part of the solution. Carbon offsetting in all forms must be done carefully to avoid harm to existing habitats and wildlife.

Data on carbon emissions for each local authority area is released each summer by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Data on the Council’s own emissions will be gathered, and a report prepared annually.

Taking action

The Council recognises that it has a role to play in helping to achieve emissions reductions, both from its own operations and by acting as a leader and catalyst for community-wide action. In order to deliver on our Net Zero targets, the Council is adopting three main approaches to action:

  1. Direct control: adopting best practice in our own operations
  2. Indirect local influence: working with our partners to delivery community initiatives, awareness raising and behaviour change
  3. Indirect national influence: lobbying central government to bring forward policy and release funding

Action on climate change is not new for Wealden; we have been taking action to address, mitigate, and adapt to, climate change for a number of years.

For example, in 2011, our offices in Hailsham were renovated to high sustainability standards, achieving a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. This included a comprehensive energy efficient retrofit. The offices now benefit from air source heat pumps, solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation, passive ventilation, solar shading, cycle storage, and dedicated car-share bays. We also have one publicly accessible electric car charging bay and will soon be taking delivery of our first 100% electric pool car.

Cabinet Prioritised Climate Emergency Plan Actions

We are now working on the delivery of Cabinet’s prioritised Climate Emergency actions. These include a number of enabling actions that will help us to make bigger changes in the future. The prioritised actions are contained within the Cabinet report for the 18th December meeting and include actions to:

  • Reduce the demand for energy from buildings across the Council and the District through increased energy efficiency and behaviour change
  • Investigate the potential for new and retrofitting of low carbon heating systems across the District
  • Assess Council buildings for further renewable energy generation and storage potential
  • Promote public and private low carbon transport options, such as zero emission cars, and install public charging infrastructure
  • Explore the potential to remove and store atmospheric carbon in vegetation and soils (sequestration) to further reduce our emissions as a District

As well as these actions, we are also working to disseminate the results of the study, establish monitoring and reporting mechanisms, improve the collection of emissions data and identify potential funding sources.

As a resident

We all have a role to play if we are to achieve our target of net-zero emissions as a District, county and country by 2050 or sooner. There is a lot of information available online to help you reduce your own emissions:

Our Energy Efficiency pages give some great advice on practical actions you can take at home to improve energy efficiency and reduce your bills.

The Energy Saving Trust has information on changes that you can make to save energy. This includes ‘quick wins’ like understanding your bills to larger projects like boiler replacement or installing solar panels.

The South East Climate Alliance has a collection of resources and actions that individuals can take to reduce their impact on the climate.

If you would like to understand your own carbon footprint, you can calculate your emissions using free online tools. For example:

As a business

Many of the resources for residents will also help businesses reduce energy bills and consider their environmental impact. There are some resources available to small, medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in East Sussex to help combat climate change – the LOCASE project offers energy efficiency support and funding towards projects to reduce energy bills.

The Carbon Trust provides resources for business to help take advantage of the opportunities climate change may provide, and to improve the sustainability of their operations.

What does climate change mean for Wealden?

The most recent climate projections we have from the Met Office Hadley Centre suggest that the south east of the UK is likely to experience:
  • Hotter summers with an increase in average summer temperature of 2-3°C by 2040 and 5-6°C by 2080
  • Warmer winters with an increase in average winter temperature of 1-2°C by 2040 and 3-4°C by 2080
  • Drier summers with a reduction in average precipitation of 20-30% by 2040 and 30-50% by 2080
  • Wetter winters with an increase in average precipitation of 10-20% by 2040 and 20-30% by 2080
  • Sea level rise of up to 0.3m by 2040 and 0.8m by 2080
The following sections give information on the current scientific background to climate change if you’d like to find out more about the science behind these projections and our climate Emergency Plan.

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a special report on the impact of the climate warming by 1.5°C. They found that:

Climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present, but lower than at 2°C. These risks depend on the magnitude and rate of warming, geographic location, level of development and vulnerability, and on the choices and implementation of adaptation and mitigation options.

We are currently on course for a global surface temperature increase of greater than 2°C. This means that the risks from climate change may be much more severe than anticipated. The findings of the report support rapid action to reduce carbon emissions to achieve global net-zero at or around 2050:

In model pathways with no or limited overshoot of 1.5°C, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 (40–60% interquartile range), reaching net zero around 2050 (IPCC, 2018).

Read the full IPCC Special report.

The UK Climate Projections 2018 data has been produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme. They use up-to-date climate science to generate projections of how the climate of the UK may change over the next 80 years. Data is available at a range of scales from 60km2 global projections down to 2.2km2 for local assessment.
Data and background information is freely available from the Met Office website (registration is required to generate downloads).

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) produces a Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every 5 years. This document sets out the main risks and opportunities to the UK from climate change.

The first CCRA was published in 2012 and identified the risks to key sectors from climate change but did not give an indication of the scale or timing of action needed. The second CCRA was published in 2017. This report took a risk based approach and identified 6 risks and one research priority across all sectors for the UK:

The top 6 risks to the UK from climate change, according to the CCC - risk of flooding and coastal change; risk to health, wellbeing and productivity from high temperatures; risks from water shortages for public supply, agriculture, energy generation and industry; risk to natural capital (ecosystems and biodiversity); risk to food production and trade; new and emerging pests and diseases. All risks are expected to have a greater impact in the future than they do now.

Top risks from the UK CCRA 2017

All of these risks will affect Wealden District in some form, and we will be working with our partners to identify ways in which we can address both the risks and opportunities that climate change may bring.

Read the full CCRA synthesis report