As global temperatures soared to a new record in September, West of England Mayor Dan Norris has vowed to accelerate green action in his patch, while warning that the government’s U-turn on climate policies makes it “unlikely” the West of England 2030 net-zero target will ever be reached.
September beat the previous record for that month by 0.5C, the largest jump in temperature ever seen, spooking scientists. In the UK, it was the joint-hottest since records began in 1884. Only on Monday, a Flood Alert was issued for the River Avon.
At a meeting of the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority in Keynsham the Mayor secured agreement with the region’s three council leaders to develop a brand-new framework to embed the environment throughout Mayoral Combined Authority decision making – including on projects, services and funding.
Plus, a new region-wide strategy will be drafted up that will set priorities to guide future investment, with climate and nature being one of three top priorities for the West of England region.
But Mr Norris warned that much more needs to be done, with the committee putting on record that while good progress had been made, with the Mayor’s £10 million RetrofitWest programme and others singled out for mention, the West of England is unlikely to ever reach achieve its 2030 net-zero ambitions, particularly in light of ministers’ climate policy backpedalling.
Mayor Norris said: “The climate emergency is the number one challenge of our time – that’s why I’ve made it a priority for my Mayoral Combined Authority.
“And from my £1 million pollinator fund to make our region the bee capital of the whole country, to my multi-million-pound ‘Reverse Beeching’ programme to give locals the stations they need and deserve, I’m proud of the work I’m doing at a regional level to slash those emissions at pace.
“But at the same time, we heard today that this government’s backtracking on the climate puts at risk the good work we’re doing. So it is right, while at the same time saddening, that we put on record that it is becoming very unlikely that we’ll ever hit our ambitious net-zero targets at the current rate.
“But that doesn’t mean we give up. On the contrary. My Mayoral Combined Authority is determined to redouble our efforts to do our bit. That means planting more trees, retrofitting homes to make them cosy and much, much more. And we need to embed the climate in everything the Mayoral Combined Authority, and our region, does, which we’ve agreed today.
“But we need climate action at all levels – because we are in the midst of a climate emergency which needs local, regional and national government each doing their bit in this crisis. Sadly this government just isn’t playing its part.
“That’s why, more than ever, our region needs a serious Labour government – with a relentless focus on green investment and jobs, to help us as a region to protect our part of the world, and our precious planet.”
He also made the point that his Mayoral Combined Authority has influence over approximately a third of emissions in the West, as he once again urged the PM to hand mayoral combined authorities additional powers so he can take more regional action to tackle the climate crisis.