Newcastle releases plan for carbon neutral ambitions

Newcastle Council has launched its draft plan with over 150 actions to help it become a carbon neutral city.

The plans, which will be presented to the council’s climate change committee this week, bring together pledges from organisations, businesses and residents.

The two main areas targeted in the plan are energy use in homes and non-domestic properties, which accounts for 64% of the city’s emissions, and transport, which is just under 30%.

Transition targets have been set for transport, including; a transition to electric vehicles for 45% of the personal vehicles in the city and 10% of freight vehicles, to hydrogen trucks for 30% and biofuel trucks for 4% of freight vehicles.

It also calls for an enhanced sustainable transport modal shift by; increasing the proportion of public transport usage by 35%, increasing active travel by 70% and increasing usage of heavy rail in preference to the car in the city.

The council said it also it planned to increase the efficiency of transport methods by; ensuring the vast majority (in excess of c. 95%) of vehicles
are subject to improved vehicle technology, the transitioning to Ultra Low Emission Vehicles for personal, public and freight transportation; improving ecodriving by c. 10%, improving the load factor for freight transport to c. 80%, reducing the need to travel by c. 20% and limiting the number of cars on our road by increasing car pools and rental cars by c. 25%.

Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council and co-chair of the city’s Net Zero Task Force, said: “Recent months have given us a brief glimpse of a more environmentally friendly future with less traffic, more active travel, less air pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

“However, any lockdown benefits look set to be minimal and short-lived, the Climate Emergency is as real as it was before the pandemic, and only last month we saw the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on the planet.”

He added: “The wholesale decarbonisation of a city has never been done before and the challenge is quite simply enormous. But despite the devastating impacts of Covid-19, our city’s determination and cross-party commitment to achieving Net Zero status by 2030 remains undiminished.

“We have a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to transform our city for the benefit of residents, businesses, the environment and generations to come, while ensuring that the economic recovery from the testing times of the pandemic places Newcastle in the best position to capitalise on the opportunities of our greener future.”

Cllr Clare Penny-Evans, cabinet member for climate change and communities, said: “We, as an authority, are doing what we can to reduce our carbon impact and following a 41 per cent reduction in emissions between 2010 and 2019, we’ve cut our emissions by a further 4.8% in the year to April.

“We know that other major organisations across Newcastle will this autumn be setting out their own detailed paths to a decarbonised future.

“As this cannot just be about one organisation, one group, one individual or one solution – as the action plan sets out the monumental task ahead will require the whole city to come together to enact the changes both big and small that will be needed to achieve our ambitious Net Zero commitment.

“Every single person will need to help and many of the things we need to do will not be easy or may be very unlike what has gone before.

“However, the last few months have shown us that as a society we can adapt to radically different day to day lives and we must capitalise on that ability to make our communities not only better now, but sustainable and enjoyable places to live for our children and future generations.”

Read the draft action plan as part of the Climate Change Committee agenda here.

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