Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing us today. Extensive scientific information tells us that human activities are causing the climate to change at a rapid and unnatural rate. Burning fossil fuels for our transport and energy, as well as releasing gases from industrial processes and landfill sites, are a large part of the problem.
Global temperatures have increased by around 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century and are anticipated to increase at an unprecedented scale unless action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The main risks from climate change include extreme heat, flooding, sea level rise, impacts to food and water supplies, and associated economic and migratory impacts. Globally, climate change is already impacting life and we don’t need to look far to see it.
What is the greenhouse effect? Toggle accordion
Our earth is surrounded by a natural mixture of gases that shape our climate and weather patterns. These gases trap the right amount of heat inside the atmosphere to shape the environmental conditions necessary to sustain life on the planet.
Around 100 years ago, humans began burning large quantities of fossil fuels such as petrol, oil and coal, to produce energy. These fuels are now essential for everything we need including light, heat, transport and most of the products we use daily. The problem is that when we burn these fuels, we release greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (NO) into the atmosphere. We currently emit around 30 billion tonnes of GHGs each year from human activities. The result of adding such a large volume of GHGs is that more and more heat is trapped in the atmosphere
Sources of reputable information about climate change Toggle accordion
What is the Council doing to tackle Climate Change? Toggle accordion
The Council has been taking action on climate change for many years. Back in 2006 we signed up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change. As part of this we developed an action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the District and within our own buildings, operations and services. In 2016 this was superseded by a Climate Change Action Plan.
In July 2019 we formally declared a climate emergency and began working on a comprehensive plan of action to drastically reduce our emissions across not only our own buildings, services and operations, but also across the District. This was in recognition, of the rapid action that is needed globally to bring down emissions to limit average global temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees. Our aim is to do all that we can to reduce emissions across the District to net zero by 2030.
Sustainability Strategy and Climate Crisis Action Plan
Our Sustainability Strategy and Climate Crisis Action Plan sets out all the actions we are taking over the next 3 years to improve environmental sustainability and begin the process of reducing our emissions as close to zero as possible. Please visit the Sustainability Strategy and Climate Crisis Action Plan page where we provide regular progress updates.
St Albans District Emissions Toggle accordion
Every year we look at the carbon dioxide emissions across the District to analyse progress towards our net zero goals. The full Briefing Note can be downloaded below.
- St Albans’ CO2 emissions for 2019 are down by 3% compared to 2018.
- 2019 emissions are down by 34% compared to 2005 (earliest data available). This drop in emissions is mostly due to decarbonisation of the National Grid.
- Per person emissions have declined from 6.1 tCO2 in 2008/09 to 3.7 tCO2 in 2019.
- Emissions were only reduced by 17,000 tonnes between 2018 and 2019, which is a shortfall of 30,000 tonnes on our annual objective.
- We all now need to reduce emissions across the District by 49,600 tonnes each year to achieve decarbonisation by 2030.
- According to the Tyndall Centre, if St Albans District continues to emit greenhouse gases from energy and transport at the current rate, we will have used up our entire 80 year carbon budget in 10 years.
- We all need to play our part to do more to reduce our fossil fuel consumption, through reducing energy and travelling less in personal vehicles and planes.
Climate Advisory Group Toggle accordion
The Council has set up a cross-party working group to provide guidance to the Portfolio Holder for Climate and the Environment in the development of our climate change action plans and activities.
The Climate Advisory Group (previously called the Climate Crisis Working Group) invites up to 8 key representatives from the community to participate in the Working Group by providing expert advice, input and scrutiny.
Meeting paperwork can be viewed here.
Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership Toggle accordion
St Albans City and District Council is a partner of Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership (HCCSP), a strategic group which acts as the lead partnership organisation for local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to collaborate and identify joint work programmes on environmental, climate change and wider sustainability issues. Working in partnership with other district and borough councils, the county council and the LEP, HCCSP works to coordinate action across the county across six themes: Adaptation, Behaviour Change, Biodiversity, Carbon Reduction, Transport and Water. Coordinated actions include supporting and progressing aligned activity across procurement, planning, comms, licensing, parks and contract management departments.
To find out more, please visit HCCSP
Climate Change Adaptation Toggle accordion
Adaptation is a general term used to cover the planning and measures needed to cope with the impacts of climate change.
If every country were to succeed in reducing global emissions to net zero, we could reduce the impacts of climate change well into the future. However, the scientific consensus is that climate changes will still occur in response to the greenhouse gas emissions that are already in the atmosphere.
The Government produce a National Adaptation Plan is produced every 5 years. The most recent plan covers 2018–23.
As a Council we have included actions to ensure our buildings, services and operations are adapted within our Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy.
What can you do? Toggle accordion
With the best will in the world we can’t reduce emissions on our own. Everyone needs to take action. We encourage local residents and organisations to play their part. There are numerous ways you can do this, from simple lifestyle changes, to home improvements, which could save you money.