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Read our Climate Strategy

Use this page to learn about our Climate Emergency Strategy.

We declared a Climate Emergency in March 2019 and pledged to provide the leadership to enable carbon neutrality in the district by 2030. Tackling the Climate Emergency means creating a different vision for all parts of Bath and North East Somerset, including the World Heritage Site of Bath itself. We are committed to providing the leadership to enable this ambition to be realised, and recognise that this requires a significant and fundamental shift within all sectors of the community. We hope that residents, communities, organisations, and businesses join us in working towards this ambition.  

In July 2020 we also declared an Ecological Emergency in response to the escalating threat to wildlife and ecosystems. The declaration recognises the essential role nature plays in society and the economy, providing a statement of intent to protect our wildlife and habitats, enabling residents to benefit from a green, nature-rich environment. We have a long history of work on biodiversity, landscape and ecology, which means there is a considerable amount of action already underway in Bath and North East Somerset. We will publish the ecological emergency action plan later this year.

Main sources of greenhouse-gas emissions across the district

Our first phase of research completed in October 2019 incorporated a district carbon foot-printing exercise, indicating that the main sources of greenhouse-gas emissions across the district are energy use in buildings (66%), and transport (29%), and modelled a pathway to 2030 to cut emissions from these segments. This enabled a clear definition of three immediate priorities for action.

Priority areas for action

  • Energy efficiency improvement of the majority of existing buildings (domestic and non-domestic) and zero-carbon new builds
  • Transport: a major shift to mass transport, walking and cycling to reduce transport emissions
  • A rapid and large-scale increase in local renewable energy generation

As identified in the Council report (October 2019), further research is needed on the complex range of land use issues, including biodiversity, soil health, food production and carbon sequestration issues. The second phase of research and development includes road-mapping action against the three priority areas, to identify key next steps that need to be taken to get us on the right trajectory. Read our Climate Emergency Strategy for detail on our plan to target these priorities.

Select a topic below to find out more about the actions we have taken so far.

Climate action taken in the past

We have taken climate action in the past and continue to build on these efforts:

  • We were the first local authority to roll out LED street-lighting to our main roads. We have been upgrading street lighting to energy saving LEDs since 2010. This delivers an annual energy saving (kWh) of 64%.
  • We constructed the Keynsham Civic Centre — an award-winning, exemplar low carbon office building — in 2016. It had the largest solar PV array in any new public sector building at the time and it is one of the lowest energy consuming public buildings in the UK.
  • We supported the development of three community energy companies: Bath & West Community Energy; Keynsham Community Energy and Chelwood Community Energy.
  • We enabled the creation of the award-winning schools’ Energy Sparks project, which is now being rolled out nationally with government support.
  • We set up a ground-breaking ‘dynamic purchasing scheme’ to enable local food producers to access public sector catering. This is now being rolled out by national government.
  • We continue to provide home energy efficiency advice and some grant funding through our Energy at Home advice line.
  • We drafted a rigorous zero carbon planning policy for new buildings.

Climate action taken since declaring a Climate Emergency

We have taken the following actions to build on our efforts since declaring a Climate Emergency:

  • We have created a new dedicated Climate Emergency cabinet role currently held by Councillor Sarah Warren and a Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy, Development and Scrutiny Panel.
  • We have made tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergencies one of our two core policies, alongside giving people a bigger say, which will shape everything we do. The three priorities for action have been built into our Corporate Strategy and are reflected in our key principles and commitments.
  • We have embedded the Climate Emergency into our budget planning.
  • We have established a new Public Services Climate Emergency workgroup (which includes both universities, the RUH, Avon Fire & Rescue and Wessex Water) that will become part of a new district-wide partnership structure.
  • We have created a toolkit to help Parish Councils respond to the Climate Emergency, several of whom have also declared a Climate Emergency; Freshford Parish Council, Keynsham Town Council, Timsbury Parish Council, Compton Martin Parish Council, Chew Magna Parish Council, East Harptree Parish Council and Radstock Town Council. We will be supporting parishes to define and implement community initiatives.
  • We have supported the development of the B&NES Schools’ Climate Emergency Network. It was launched in December 2019 and attended by representatives from more than half of the schools within B&NES.
  • We received ‘pro bono’ analysis from the University of Bath on how to use citizens’ assemblies or juries to inform action planning.
  • We have signed up to CDP, a global platform for cities to measure, manage and disclose environmental data annually.
  • Publication of the Climate Emergency Strategy.
  • We have run the Climate and Biodiversity Festival for two years (2021-2022), bringing community action together across Bath and North East Somerset.
  • We have become the first council in England to successfully adopt an energy-based net zero housing policy in our local plan.