Leeds City Region’s ambitious agenda for climate change action

The Leeds City Region is aiming to be the UK's first carbon neutral city region

26 July 2019

An ambitious agenda for climate change action will be discussed at the Combined Authority’s annual meeting this Thursday (27 June).

City Region partners have committed to making Leeds City Region the UK’s first zero carbon city region and are currently undertaking science-based work with the respected Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to determine how this can be achieved.

The Combined Authority and LEP 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.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “There is a global climate emergency – that is a point of scientific fact – and we have developed a comprehensive approach to ensure our region is taking the right action to address it.

“We agreed a bold ambition last year to become the UK’s first zero carbon city region and now we’re doing the detailed work to set out how we work in partnership across the public and private sectors and with communities to realise this.

“Becoming a zero carbon City Region is good for our economy and our people, as well as for the planet. We predict that investment in clean energy could be worth £11billion 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.”

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, said: “As a City Region, we have a significant role to play in responding the national declaration of a climate emergency and similar declarations by our partner councils. We already generate 30% of the UK’s renewable or low carbon electricity – meaning we have the potential to go further and faster than other areas in rising to the challenge.

“Leeds City Region has seen an overall 38% reduction in carbon emissions since 2005, compared to 27% nationally. This is a good starting point but the scale of the crisis we face means we need to do much more.

“That’s why we’re developing an evidence-based approach and working with a broad coalition of partners to make sure we are taking all possible action to deliver on our commitment.”

Measures to reduce carbon emissions which are already being delivered by the Combined Authority and LEP include:

  • Energy Accelerator: a first-of-its-kind model in the UK which provides specialist support to develop and identify funding for low carbon energy projects, such as district heat schemes
  • Natural flood management: £1.7 million investment through the LEP’s Growth Deal in natural flood management projects in Calderdale and Kirklees which will reduce the risk of flooding to around 3,000 homes and more than 1,000 businesses and support biodiversity
  • Resource Efficiency Fund: providing advice, support and investment to small and medium-sized enterprises in the City Region to reduce their energy, water and waste use.
  • Zero Emission Bus Delivery Roadmap: setting out how a sustainable bus network could be created in West Yorkshire by 2028.
  • Clean Bus Technology Fund: providing investment to retrofit 300 buses to the latest Euro VI emission standard
  • Ultra-Low Emission Taxi Scheme: installation of 88 dedicated electric taxi charging points across West Yorkshire

Further initiatives to achieve the region’s zero carbon ambition –  including carbon capture storage, energy efficient street lighting schemes and the development of hydrogen buses and refuelling stations – are being developed as a result of the Leeds City Region Energy Strategy, published last year.

Last year the Combined Authority also published its Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy setting out how City Region partners will make the most of the region’s amazing natural assets to help the economy prosper, improve quality of life for residents, reduce carbon emissions and make the region more resilient to climate change.

Schemes that will move forward as a result of this strategy include natural flood management and peatland restoration programmes, additional investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, the development of the White Rose Forest as part of Government’s plans for a Northern Forest, and the development of agricultural and environmental policies to promote the region’s interests after Brexit.