Wakefield Council hosts its second Climate Summit

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Wakefield Council hosted its second Climate Summit on Tuesday 18 June as it continues its aim of reducing carbon emissions across the district.

“The Climate Summit we held last year was a huge success and I am delighted that we have once again brought together businesses, charities and voluntary groups to share ideas. Learning from each other is so important and helps to set out how we can work collaboratively on our shared path to net zero.

“We have set ambitious carbon reduction targets, both for the Council and the district, and we know that to make progress we need to continue working together.”

Cllr Jack Hemingway

Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change

Cllr Jack Hemingway

Wakefield Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and published its Climate Change Action Plan in 2020, which set a target to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. It will also empower the district to become Net Zero by 2038.

The summit gave attendees the chance to discuss the district’s Net Zero Journey and to update on their progress.

Lynn Dunning, Chief Executive Officer at the National Coal Mining Museum for England, discussed the legacy of coal mining in the district and a mine water heating scheme, extracting geothermally heated water from mines to heat the museum and potentially nearby HMP New Hall and social houses in Overton.

She said: “Coal mining is part of our legacy in Wakefield, but we know the impact fossil fuels, especially coal, have had on our planet. However, we’re optimistic that it could be part of the solution towards the climate emergency. As there are so many former collieries sitting beneath our feet, our mine water heating project could be the first of many in the district. We are grateful for Our Year funding, which is enabling us to educate more people about our coal mining past, its impact on the climate and its future.”

A representative from West Yorkshire Police, Anda Baumerte, discussed the force’s sustainability progress and goals:

•    Two of its 80+ buildings have received public sector decarbonisation grants.
•    Its fleet of over 1,200 vehicles travel over 17million miles a year. Currently they only have 17 electric vehicles but are looking to expand.
•    They have developed the first carbon literacy toolkit in policing.
•    Sustainability is one of the main themes of its latest strategy.

Success stories from the Better Neighbourhood Fund were also shared. These are community climate grants from the Council which have helped local organisations, including:

•    Open Country – ensuring people with disabilities can access and enjoy countryside. The group purchased an electric-assist trike and wildflower growing and tree planting equipment. Over 38 new members have been able to benefit from this equipment.
•    Portobello Community Forum – installed solar panels and battery storage, enabling them to reduce carbon and their energy bills.

Roger Parkinson, Woodland Trust volunteer, discussed the works to improve the district’s tree coverage from ~4% in the 1980s to 14% today. The national average is 12.82%.

Attendees were also able to sign a placard saying they supported the Yorkshire & Humber Climate Action pledge.

The pledge, developed by the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, is the first regional pledge of its kind in the UK. The aim is to create a movement of organisations who recognise action needs to be taken, to protect the region from climate impacts and unlock the benefits of a green economy.

The event is supported by Our Year – Wakefield District 2024. A year-long programme of breathtaking spectacles, unique festivals, major events, and community-led activities that celebrate all the Wakefield district has to offer.

More information is available at www.wakefield.gov.uk/climate

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