West Suffolk Council's carbon emissions at half level of a decade ago - with acceleration in progress due to Covid-19
Greenhouse gas emissions from West Suffolk Council activities have fallen by more than 28 per cent in the last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – and are now at half the level they were a decade ago.
Latest figures presented to West Suffolk Council’s cabinet on Tuesday night showed that for 2020/21 the carbon dioxide equivalent figure (CO2e) was 4,093 tonnes – less than half the 8,215 tonnes in 2010.
And council chiefs have said that while the authority was already on a downward trajectory pre-Covid, the pandemic saw a steeper drop in levels not anticipated in the roadmap until 2023.
Side effects of the pandemic such as reduced travel for meetings, periods of closure for the council’s leisure centres and remote working all contributed to reduced emissions.
Conservative council leader John Griffiths said: “We have been helped by Covid and it would be naive not to recognise that.”
He continued: “We have exceeded those targets, reducing emissions even more than planned or hoped for, but the measures we had already taken put us in good stead before Covid hit.”
Cllr Griffiths said he hoped the council could 'bake in' gains already made for future years.
“It’s a collective effort and runs though everything we do. We will continue to work alongside communities, partners and businesses to play our collective part,” he added.
Other green measures have included 1,500 trees being planted in the last year, a 39 per cent improvement on the recycling rate and the council’s parks now being peat free.
Measures planned for the year ahead include hopes for ‘hybrid’ council meetings – those where more people will be able to join remotely via a video feed, reduced use of glyphosate spray, and measures to ensure contractors have sustainability targets.
Green councillor Julia Wakelam said: “I am pretty impressed with what West Suffolk has done addressing the climate emergency,” but called for more work around key areas.
Among those were more education to the public on areas such as re-wilding some grass verges, reducing pesticide use, and adopting hybrid meetings, which could prove to be “an easy win”.
The authority has declared a climate emergency and pledged to be net carbon zero by 2030.