Our planet cannot absorb all the carbon we are making and putting into our atmosphere
To help our planet we have to make significant changes to how we live today. We have to use our resources to help our planet support everyone now and in the future. For example: Energy production contributes high levels of carbon emissions.
But it is an area we can do something about it.
Reducing these emissions needs businesses and households to change how we produce energy. We must use more renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal. We also have to change how we use energy, by cutting down on the power we use.
Cornwall Council cannot make Cornwall carbon neutral on its own. We need everyone in Cornwall to act now and consider what they can do to reduce their impact on the planet. We all need to take action at home, in the workplace, and across Cornwall as a whole.
The Council is well placed to work with others. We can make the most of Cornwall's collective potential and create solutions together. Making Cornwall carbon neutral will need major investments. We will have to make changes to existing systems of how we use and interact with energy. We must change how we live our lives and define success. We will have to redefine how we manage and interact with our environment.
Above all, to meet this challenge, we need collective leadership and shared ambition.
The photo above is of the launch of the Forest for Cornwall in Saltash. (Cornwall Council, Cormac, the Forestry Commission, Woodland Trust, local people and children). Planting trees together is a good example of how we can work together to help reduce and absorb carbon.
What will you see across Cornwall?
We heard from over 3,000 residents on the first projects they would like the Council to focus on.
The Council is already delivering on those priorities identified during our early engagement. The projects include:
Planting new woodland across Cornwall as part of the Forest for Cornwall programme. The new forest canopy of trees and hedgerows will draw down carbon from the atmosphere. The Forest for Cornwall will also increase public access to around 32 square miles of new open space. That's over 11,500 football pitches, or over 30 times the size of Cardinham Woods on Bodmin Moor.
Increasing the amount of renewable energy generated in Cornwall. Since 2009 we have increased the amount of electricity we can generate from 90 to over 800 megawatts. That means around 40% of Cornwall's electricity now comes from renewable sources. Cornwall's new smart-grid wind turbine will be generating energy from September.
We need to improve the energy efficiency of homes across Cornwall. Initially we are focussing on our existing Council owned homes. We will be helping to reduce the cost of those homes energy bills and making them easier to keep warm. We are lobbying government to help us do more. If you worry about staying warm in your house our Warm and Well scheme may be able to help you.
We are working to help more people use low carbon vehicles by making them more accessible. We are using a £23 million subsidy from national government to reduce the cost of bus journeys. We are improving park and ride facilities and walking and cycling routes. We will also be increasing the number of charging points for electric vehicles.
How will Cornwall Council be changing?
Cornwall Council has pledged to reduce its own carbon impact to zero. We will do that through changing the way we work, including:
- Reducing the resources we use such as paper and water
- Cutting down on emissions by reducing journeys. We are switching our fleet of vehicles to ultra low emission and electric.
And we are looking into bio-methane refuelling stations for trucks and buses
- Ensuring that our suppliers have the lowest carbon impact possible
- Increasing renewable energy production and decreasing energy usage in Council owned buildings
- Switching Cornwall's 54,000 street lights to low energy LED smart street lights. This will reduce our energy bill by around £1 million a year
- We will reduce waste and increase recycling. We are introducing weekly food waste collections and every other week recycling collections. We are working to encourage people in Cornwall to recycle more
- We are developing innovative ways to use food waste and grass cuttings to make clean energy. We are turning food and grass waste into compost and gasses that can run vehicles and machinery
- We are making sure the key decisions we make don't impact in a bad way on the environment and people.
- We are using our decision-making wheel to consider social, economic and environmental impacts.
These actions are the start of our work to tackle climate change in Cornwall. We are exploring new ideas and opportunities all the time.
Our Action Plan sets our Cornwall Council's plans to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Cornwall Council's carbon inventory for 2018/19
Cornwall Council has completed a baseline carbon inventory for the financial year 2018-19.
The carbon inventory for Cornwall Council include all emissions relating to:
- Electricity and gas consumption within all Cornwall owned offices
- Electricity consumption by all Cornwall Council street lighting and road signs
- Water, waste and recycling in Cornwall Council owned offices and buildings
- Business travel by Cornwall Council employees
Business travel includes:
- in pool cars
- in fleet vehicles
- in personal vehicles
- by rail, air and sea.
The Council's carbon emissions for 2018/19 is 12,859 tonnes of CO2e.
Read the Council's full carbon inventory document
What Cornwall Council aims to influence
There are so many improvements that can decrease or offset carbon emissions. Cornwall Council only has direct control over a small number of the changes that need to happen. We can influence and support others to help Cornwall become carbon neutral by 2030 in a range of areas.
You can read about how we are working with other organisations and sectors below:
- We are encouraging the production of innovative renewable energy sources
- We are supporting projects that are investigating deep geothermal and floating wind energy
- There are also renewable energy incentive schemes to help investment in green technologies
- We will encourage individuals to cut down on energy usage at home and at work.
The national electricity grid needs upgrading for Cornwall to make more renewable energy. We are supporting improvements for Cornwall to make and store more renewable energy.
The Cornwall Local Energy Market video below explains a pioneering trial in Cornwall.
- We will work with partners to increase electric vehicle charging points to over 200 by 2022
- We will make public transport easier and more affordable for everyone. We will support the development of more integrated public transports timetables. Integrating buses, trains and ferries will help people to avoid car journeys
- We will encourage individuals to cut down on car journeys. We will ask them to consider other ways of getting about. Like car sharing, community cars schemes and walking or cycling
- We will encourage people and businesses to cut down on flights. We will ask people to consider using public transport for holidays. We will promote virtual work meetings rather than travelling, where appropriate.
The way we farm and the crops we grow has an effect on the emissions we create. There are better ways available for us to manage the land, and help reduce and capture our emissions.
- We will work with the farming community to help reduce and draw down carbon from agriculture. Whilst also building resilience and increasing productivity
- We will promote land use that absorbs more carbon. For example seaweed farming and wetland restoration
- We will encourage people to create environments where pollinators - like bees - can thrive. Bees and other pollinators need wildflowers for food. When they visit flowers and trees for food they help to pollinate them
- We will encourage individuals to look at the impact of their diet. We will ask them to consider reducing their meat consumption. We will work with food producers to help people buy and eat food that is in-season and grown in Cornwall or nearby.
The video below explains how a Bennamann trial in Cornwall is unlocking the power of methane to deliver a local clean energy revolution.
- We will encourage businesses to minimise their waste. We will ask them to be more efficient in how they use natural resources. We will promote a circular economy. For example through innovative projects like Tevi and Energy Independent Farming.
- We will help people to create less waste by supporting the development of a network of Repair Cafes
- We will encourage individuals to cut down on food waste. For example through meal planning and freezing leftovers
- We will encourage individuals to embrace consuming and buying less. Consuming includes clothes and items like phones and appliances. We can reduce waste by repairing things rather than buying new ones.
While we are working to reduce the long term impacts of climate change - some change is inevitable. Flooding and coastal erosion will increase. Local communities will need to become more resilient to face these changes. We will need to plan to adapt and make the most of Cornwall's natural and human resources.
Things we are doing
We will be consulting people about issues that affect them now. We will also be asking about the priorities which lie ahead in an uncertain future.
We are looking at how and where managing land can help flood defences and reduce coastal erosion.
We will work with the Environment Agency to make more funds available to manage flood risk.
We will contribute to neighbourhood plans and encourage others to do the same. We will encourage people to help shape how Cornwall approaches the future.
We will signpost people to information to help them understand what is happening. We will encourage people to talk to friends and families about climate change.
We encourage people to follow the Eden Project's Make the Change pledges.