Tackling climate change with urgency

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe has written in the Yorkshire Evening Post discussing how West Yorkshire Leaders will work together with organisations across the region to respond to the climate emergency

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, has written in the Yorkshire Evening Post today (Tuesday 9 July 2019).

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has joined councils, including my own in Bradford, in declaring that there is a climate emergency.  However, I am also determined to ensure that there is substance to our response and that our actions as a Combined Authority are focused on addressing the needs of our communities and understanding what climate change will mean for people in their day to day lives.

The Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership are already delivering a wide range of measures to reduce carbon emissions in the region.

These include support for businesses to reduce their waste, water and energy bills; measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes and combat fuel poverty; investment in local, low carbon energy schemes such as the Leeds PIPES district heat network; and the introduction of electric vehicle charging points and low emission buses in partnership with local councils and bus operators.

Through investments such as the Bradford-Leeds Cycle Superhighway and the new Canal Road Cycleway we are helping people make travel choices which are better for the environment and their health. We are supporting natural flood management projects which improve our environment while also cutting flood risk.

But we need and want to go much further to respond to this challenge. We agreed a bold ambition last year to become the UK’s first zero carbon city region and now we are doing the detailed work to set out how we work in partnership across the public and private sectors and with communities to realise this.

Our ambition is fuelled both by the desire to protect our communities from the possible impacts of climate change - including risks to health and more extremes of weather – but also ensure we can take advantage of the opportunities the move to a more sustainable economy will bring.

We predict that investment in clean energy could be worth £11 billion in economic growth and create 100,000 extra skilled jobs. It will also mean lower energy bills and better health for everyone in the region thanks to warmer, more efficient homes, greener transport and cleaner air.

I hope national government will match our ambition and support plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail – a high speed rail line through Bradford city centre – as part of a low-carbon transport system.

It is also important to recognise that no single council, combined authority or, indeed, government holds all the answers. Only by working together can we respond effectively.  Tomorrow West Yorkshire Leaders are gathering to set out more details of how we will work together with organisations across West Yorkshire to respond collectively and comprehensively to the climate emergency we now face.