Isle of Wight Council has launched a draft climate and environment strategy following a climate motion made in 2019 when the council declared a climate emergency.
The draft strategy sets out key activities the council can take to fulfil its duties and reduce the Island’s carbon footprint.
Actions undertaken by the council to minimise its own carbon footprint included reducing office space, purchasing electric vehicles and switching to LED street lights. The council’s own baseline carbon footprint has reduced approximately 65% from 11,568 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2009/10, to 4,077 tCO2e, in 2018/19, according to the Island Echo.
A study performed last year for the council, by Regen, energy experts, based on the 2017 emission statistics found the Isle of Wight’s total carbon footprint to be 506,900 tCO2e.
The three biggest contributors to the Island’s carbon footprint then formed 75% of total emissions — commercial and industrial accounting for 26%, transport 25% and domestic heating 24%.
To meet the target of net zero emissions by 2030, the environment strategy says the Isle of Wight will need to reduce and offset carbon emissions by an average of 12.8% per year.
If the council were to offset (plant trees or create new woodland, for example) the entire 2017 carbon footprint, approximately 2.5 million trees would have to be planted. If the council were to eliminate 85% of emissions by 2030, and offset the further 15% approximately, 760 hectares (or 760 rugby pitches) worth of tree coverage would need to be planted.
Pathways are being discussed to achieve the net zero target, primarily focusing on reducing emissions with a small amount of offsetting taking place, but the council has said while it can decrease its own carbon footprint, it only accounts for less than 1% of the Island’s overall emissions.
The strategy says widespread behaviour change will be necessary across the Island if the target is to be met in the next 9 years, with major changes to energy use and production, housing, and transport and its supporting infrastructure required.
As part of the Isle of Wight Council’s actions to reduce its emissions, the strategy plans to divest from the use of fossil fuels, make sure council buildings are entry efficient and use renewable energy as well as potentially introducing new planning conditions to protect the natural environment.
Target dates for the net zero goal are to be submitted to the full council for review early this year, with the draft plan being considered at a meeting of the policy and scrutiny committee for the neighbourhoods and regeneration on Thursday (7th January).