02 Sep 2021

Island zero carbon future strategy

A climate and environment strategy setting out how the Isle of Wight can become carbon-neutral by 2040 will be discussed at Cabinet next week.

The ‘Mission Zero’ Climate and Environment Strategy 2021- 2040 sets out the council’s aspirations and targets to achieve net-carbon zero in its own operations by 2030 and as an island by 2040. 

If adopted, the plan will commit the council to making sure that all strategic decisions, planning approach decisions and budget setting across all areas of council work will be considered in line with the target of zero carbon use by 2040. 

The action plan contains a number of proposals, including targets to:
- Decarbonise council-owned sites and operations by 2030, with a maximum carbon offset of 15 per cent through rewilding and land use schemes on council land.
- Supporting the wider Island to meet net-zero carbon by 2040, with a maximum carbon offset of 15 per cent through:
o rewilding schemes, as well as potential land change use for other methods of carbon removal, such as salt marsh and peat bog restoration and seagrass/seaweed restoration to coastal areas;
o Encouraging job creation in environmental sectors such as clean energy, energy efficiency and low carbon transport;
o Planning infrastructure to support Island-wide electric vehicle charging and increase the use of electric and other low-carbon vehicles within the council fleet;
o Encouraging and signposting private homeowners, landlords and new housing developments to meet future net zero carbon standards.

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, cabinet lead on Environment, Heritage and Waste management, said: “This ‘Mission Zero’ strategy recognises that the Isle of Wight is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and therefore, the importance of working with our environment to reduce the impacts of climate change. The health and wellbeing of our community will be directly affected by how the council and the island responds and adapts to a changing climate.

“Our time to take action is now and as a council, through support and key partnerships, we are already undertaking work to lower emissions from transport through our sustainable transport initiatives and we are replacing older fleet vehicles with electric alternatives. However, this is a bold and far-reaching plan that builds on this work and expands on further achievable targets for both council operations and our wider community to reach by 2040. There is much more to do but this plan provides a road map on how we get there.”

The Isle of Wight Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019, following a motion put forward by Ryde, Appley and Elmfield ward Councillor, Michael Lilley.

If approved by Cabinet on 9 September, the ‘Mission Zero’ Climate and Environment Strategy will go forward to the next full council for approval. 

Anyone in the community that wished to get involved and discuss the topic at hand is welcome to attend the monthly Environment and Sustainability Forum run by the council, simply email sustainability@iow.gov.uk for details. 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Highlighting the need for immediate action was the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report last month (August) that, based on research, stated: 

“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.”

This new report outlined the changes we are already seeing in the Earth’s atmosphere that are a direct consequence of human activity. These include global warming taking place at a faster rate than previously seen, more intense rainfall and more frequent flooding, continued and increased sea level rise, melting glaciers, ice sheets, and permafrost, and warmer and more acidified oceans. 

By reducing emissions as far as possible and achieving net zero, we can expect to see further warming associated with human activity stop. Furthermore, if humans were to achieve net negative emissions (e.g. remove more emissions from the atmosphere than are produced each year), this may help to reverse some impacts, such as global warming.

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Photo credit: Dawn at Brading Marsh Visit Isle of Wight
Photo credit: Dawn at Brading Marsh Visit Isle of Wight
Factfile
  • Cabinet will discuss a climate and environment strategy setting out how the Isle of Wight can become carbon-neutral by 2040.
  • The ‘Mission Zero’ Climate and Environment Strategy 2021- 2040 sets out the council’s aspirations and targets to achieve net-carbon zero in its own operations by 2030 and as an island by 2040.
  • If approved by Cabinet on 9 September, the ‘Mission Zero’ Climate and Environment Strategy will go forward to the next full council for approval.
 
Isle of Wight, UK