Ambitious action on cutting car use, insulating thousands of homes and planting new forests needed to tackle climate emergency

New report sets out action needed to ensure West Yorkshire is net zero carbon by 2038.

Planting enough trees to cover 420 football pitches, retrofitting almost 700,000 homes with insulation and reducing car use by 21% are the among the measures set out in a report on how West Yorkshire could become net zero carbon by 2038. 

The report, which is called the Emissions Reduction Pathways, was presented to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority at its monthly meeting today (Monday, July 27). 

It is the first in three-step process which began earlier this year exploring what needs to be done to enable the region to achieve its ambitious target of being net carbon zero by 2038 following the formal declaration of a climate emergency in 2019. 

The report, which has been produced in partnership with a team of low carbon energy experts, looked at different sectors of the economy such as industry and transport, and the measures needed to drastically cut carbon emissions. 

The report sets out a number of measures which will require everybody to make changes over the next 18 years as well as ways the Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) can support the development and adoption of new low or zero carbon technologies. 

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “The climate emergency is one of the biggest challenges we face and it’s vital that we take ambitious and collaborative action to begin to reduce carbon emissions quickly if we are to reach our target date of 2038. 

It is equally important that we make the transition to a net zero economy in a way which benefits communities and this report sets out measures that will create new jobs and opportunities as well as improving health and quality of life.” 

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, said: “Our region was once at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and I believe we can lead the UK’s Green Revolution. 

This report is the first step to achieving our ambition of becoming a net zero carbon City RegionOur 2038 target is achievable but only if we take urgent action to lay the foundations for our net zero carbon future.”  

On transport, the report found that travel by bike must increase by more than 2,000% on current levels and walking by 78%. Longer journeys must switch to zero or low emission public transport with a 53% increase in rail travel and 39% increase in bus travelOverall, private car use must decline by 21%. 

Homes and building are also a key opportunity for job creation with a massive programme needed to retrofit nearly 700,000 homes with energy efficiency measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation as well installing up to 665,000 heat pump systems. 

Currently, West Yorkshire is very dependent on the National Grid for power but by 2038the report suggests that electricity could be generated from onshore wind and solar to power more than 162,000 homes. This could also be supported by implementing carbon capture and storage technology to remove emissions from the atmosphere. 

As well as reducing the amount of carbon produced, we also need to increase measures to absorb emissions including planting new trees to cover the area of 420 football pitches. Damaged natural peatlands are responsible for carbon emissions and the report states that restoration of all those in West Yorkshire is vital. 

People should be encouraged to make changes to the way they eat by reducing food waste by 38% and eating less meat and dairy to lower the emissions caused by cows. 

Following the publication of the report, regional partners from across the transport, power, industry, buildings, land-use and agriculture sectors will be invited to have their say on what regional and national policies and actionneed to be put in place. 

This will be followed by a public consultation later in the year where everyone will the chance to have their say before a new regional Tackling the Climate Emergency Action Plan is produced early in 2021. 

For more information about action being taken to tackle the Climate Emergency by the Combined Authority and the LEP click here