Calls for WY Mayor to accelerate action on climate change

For release: 27/06/22

On the 3-year anniversary of the ‘Climate Emergency’ Declaration by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), campaigners ask for progress update on climate goals

Extract from WYCA’s Carbon Emission Reduction Pathway study

Environmental campaigners representing Friends of the Earth groups from across West Yorkshire, have marked the 3rd year anniversary of WYCA’s Climate Emergency Declaration by calling on WYCA and Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire. to ensure that West Yorkshire accelerates action towards its climate goals.

On 27 June 2019 WYCA declared a Climate Emergency and committed to achieving ‘Net Zero’ carbon dioxide emissions by 2038. In July 2020 WYCA’s carbon emissions reduction pathways (CERP) study was published, which identified the huge scale of decarbonisation that has to be achieved. At least 6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions needs to be removed permanently by 2030. As part of her election pledges, Tracy Brabin committed to ‘Tackle the climate emergency and protect our environment’. The Mayor’s Climate & Environmental Plan was published in October 2021.

Although the campaigners welcome these commitments, they want to know whether actual progress has been made by WYCA and West Yorkshire towards delivering their challenging decarbonisation goals.

In particular, the campaigners want to understand:

1)     What is WYCA’s decarbonisation plan? Which carbon emissions pathway from the CERP study has been chosen? Is West Yorkshire on target for its 2030 reduction?

2)     What are the specific plans for cutting emissions from transport & buildings? Transport and buildings are responsible for a combined 85% of West Yorkshire’s carbon emissions and the campaigners are calling for a credible decarbonisation plan for these significant sectors.  How do WYCA’s transport infrastructure and road expansion plans fit within its decarbonisation targets? Various schemes to increase highway capacity across West Yorkshire are still being pursued, which are likely to encourage more road carbon emissions in the 2020s. So far, WYCA has failed to disclose what the emissions impacts of those schemes might be.

3)     Are the WYCA processes performing adequately to meet the climate emergency? Has a comprehensive decarbonisation delivery plan been prepared by WYCA so that its implementation can be properly scrutinised by councillors and relied on by members of the public?

Mary Clayton from Leeds Friends of the Earth commented:

“With the third anniversary of those climate emergency declarations, we all need to ask what has actually been achieved as the climate clock has ticked down through those 3 years. Will WYCA’s commitments and the Mayor’s Plan now accelerate actions across the 2020s in order to achieve its target of Net Zero?”

Chayley Collis from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth commented:

“Increasing highway capacity around West Yorkshire is likely to encourage more road emissions in the 2020s.

At the West Yorkshire level, emissions from transport alone, the largest sector, have to be reduced by 250,000 tonnes a year. If that fails to happen, West Yorkshire’s response to climate emergency would collapse.”

The campaigners point to the latest reports by the international climate scientists in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change described as a ‘Code Red for Humanity’. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commented in early June 2022 “Unless we act now, we will not have a liveable planet. Scientists recently reported that there is a 50:50 chance that we could temporarily breach the Paris Agreement limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next five years. We cannot let that happen,” 

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