As the 4th anniversary of Sheffield City Council’s declaration of a climate emergency approaches, South Yorkshire Climate Alliance has written to every Councillor to remind them of the urgency of the situation and to suggest they hold cross-party meetings to see what measures they can agree on that will start to reduce emissions:
It is now four years since Sheffield City Council formally recognised the Climate Emergency facing the world.
In February 2019 the council declared a climate emergency, and subsequently stated its intention to work towards Sheffield becoming a zero-carbon city by 2030 – thereby playing our full part in the Paris Agreement. The time scale was ambitious but properly reflected the urgency of the situation. Since then, four of the eleven years between setting the target and achieving the goal have passed without any steps being taken that will genuinely make a serious dent in our city’s carbon emissions. The positive actions that have been taken, such as energy efficiency improvements in 800 homes and the SCC fleet replacement programme are commendable, but the reality is that they are on nothing like the scale and pace required.
The South Yorkshire Climate Alliance (SCA) has asked repeated questions at full council and committee meetings about this slow rate of progress in recent months, but none of the answers given suggest any sense of urgency. We believe this can be turned around with sufficient political will, and are asking all Sheffield City Councillors to show this on a cross-party basis. The Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee’s decision on 19 January to create a Task and Finish Group to accelerate the production of the decarbonisation route maps can be a means to do this – to inject the necessary urgency into both the plans and the delivery.
We would encourage Sheffield City Council to take lessons from measures other councils have already taken. Friends of the Earth and climate solutions charity Ashden have drawn together a set of case studies which provide exactly this type of information. To take two housing examples: Manchester has made significant progress in training up a retrofit workforce, and Liverpool has taken measures to improve insulation in privately rented accommodation through licensing measures. Investment in decarbonisation measures will stimulate the local economy, create jobs, reduce heating bills and need not be a significant burden on council budgets.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told world leaders at the opening of COP 27, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.” We urge all Sheffield City Councillors to reflect on the reality of this. Providing clear leadership for our city is in your hands. Give the citizens of Sheffield a vision of what we can achieve together. The South Yorkshire Climate Alliance, and the voluntary and community sectors more widely, will be active supporters in making these changes happen – and all the more so if you create the right kind of enabling, participative infrastructure alongside it.
Geoff Cox, Chair
On behalf of South Yorkshire Climate Alliance
South Yorkshire Climate Alliance will also be presenting a petition at the next Council meeting on 20 February 2023 calling on Sheffield City Council to accelerate its response to the climate emergency. We’ll be outside the Town Hall beforehand to make some noise – there’ll be performance art, music and speakers.
Please come along and join us and let Sheffield City Council know there is a demand for change. Meet on the Town Hall steps at 1pm, Mon 20 February.