City Council Climate Change Plan: an embarrassment to Winchester

Back in February, Keith House set the ambitious goal of making Lib Dem-led Eastleigh Borough Council a zero carbon council by 2012. This builds on Eastleigh’s climate change action plan launched in 2005.

Given the recent coverage of Winchester’s environmental footprint, you’d hope that our City Council would be thinking in similarly ambitious terms.

Last Wednesday, the Conservatives in Winchester agreed their plans for Winchester City Council (‘Live for the Future: Tackling Climate Change‘).

And their target for CO2 reductions by Winchester City Council?

They haven’t set one. There is no target for CO2 reductions by Winchester City Council in the climate change strategy they agreed last Wednesday!

The document is an embarrassment.

It sets one overall target – to reduce CO2 emissions for the overall district by 30% by 2012 (even though much of what needs to be done to achieve this is outside their control and this target is barely more than the Government required minimum).

There are some specific targets on housing – although these are mostly inherited from the Lib Dem administration or mandated by government.

And then… nothing.

The officers have come up with a long list of useful ideas, but there is a complete absence of any serious overall framework and of any political commitment or leadership.

Almost all the feedback they have received has been fobbed off with waffle.

Overall, there is:

  • No target for any City Council activities.
  • No target for Renewable Energy.
  • No target for Transport.
  • No target for Adaptation Planning.
  • No target for community involvement.

The one encouraging decision from the Council was to provide some grant funding to Winchester Action on Climate Change. I’ve been involved with WinACC since the initial meeting back in July and working as part of the Communications team to get the WinACC website ready for launch. (One of my contributions was the abbreviation ‘WinACC’, after it turned out that the WACC web addresses were taken by the World Association for Christian Communication and the Wichita Chamber of Commerce). It’s good to see all the work by WinACC volunteers (from all parties and none), especially the Convenor Robert Hutchison, recognised with some funding.

But, funding WinACC is not a substitute for serious leadership on climate change from the city council. And sadly, that is now proven to be seriously lacking.

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