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County Council’s first Climate Change Annual Report published

A detailed overview of Hampshire County Council’s work towards tackling Climate Change - over the 12 month period since the launch of its Climate Change Strategy - has been reported to the Authority’s Cabinet Members.

This first Climate Change Annual Progress Report 2020 – 2021 sets out the significant progress that is being made across the county to reduce carbon emissions and ensure that Hampshire is prepared for the impacts of climate change. The work is focused on key areas like reducing emissions from transport, making homes more energy efficient, generating local renewable energy and protecting and enhancing our natural environment. The report also highlights how the County Council is working with partners to support residents and communities to take action and make their contribution to tackling climate change.

Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Leader, said: “This is an excellent record of the depth and breadth of our commitment to meeting the targets we have set – to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to be prepared for a two degrees rise in temperature. I am delighted to see that tremendous progress is being made, particularly in embedding climate change into the DNA of almost everything that we do. However, I fully understand that there is still a long way to go. That said, this is a great start to that journey.”

The County Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change and Sustainability, Councillor Jan Warwick, said: “This is a particularly timely report in view of the forthcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow and really reflects the Authority’s determination to play its part on this critical issue. It is really pleasing to see so many community initiatives starting to deliver outcomes. We also know that to be successful in meeting the challenge of tackling climate change, our partners, residents and businesses must join us to take action and create real lasting changes. As a local authority we simply cannot reach our targets alone.”

Critical role of communities

The Climate Change Annual Progress Report makes it clear that Hampshire’s residents and communities have a vital role in reducing emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change in their own homes and through lifestyle choices. Therefore, multiple projects have been set up to support communities to be active at a local level.

Among the projects featured is The Greening Campaign which has provided support and advice to 40 Hampshire communities, despite COVID-19, to work through a step-by-step process of reducing their carbon footprint and making changes to help safeguard against climate impacts like flooding or overheating. The first steps include taking very simple actions at a household level, such as reducing how much energy and water they use and to be more energy efficient. The model for this project ensures that there are direct links between the Greening Campaign communities and their local councils and this has been fundamental to the Campaign’s success.

At another level the focus is on actions to generate more local renewable energy. Together with iChoosr, in March 2021, the County Council launched the first Solar Together Campaign in Hampshire – a scheme that offers high-quality solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and battery storage to help residents generate their own green energy - maximising on bulk buying power to offer competitive prices for the purchase of panels. The County Council is also working with Community Energy South to build a network of community energy projects around the county.

Additionally, in supporting households to reduce transport emissions, the County Council secured Government funding for the installation of 50 on-street residential electric vehicle charge points (in Winchester and Eastleigh) and, there are plans to extend this wider.

Further outcomes

The Annual Report also highlights the critical role the natural environment plays in helping alleviate the impacts of climate change and how investing in initiatives like tree planting (over 1,250 trees during the past 12 months) and the Parish Pollinator Project to make improvements to pollinator habitats in Hampshire’s towns and villages, are essential.

Furthermore, the Annual Report reveals how climate change adaptation and carbon mitigation is also being built into policies and practices right across Hampshire County Council from Adults' and Children’s services to Highways and Waste.

Central to ensuring that climate change is at the heart of the Authority are the two ground-breaking decision tools that have been created to assess all key decisions against the targets set. These assessments are now a mandatory component of the County Council’s decision-making process. The tools help with identifying carbon emissions that may arise from a project and how this could be reduced, alongside outlining how prepared a project is to deal with climate change impacts and what modifications could be made.

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