Suffolk takes step closer to emissions target in fight against climate change

2014 sunseekers at Southwold.

2014 sunseekers at Southwold. - Credit: Archant

As Suffolk strives to be an exemplar county when it comes to cutting carbon emissions and adapting to climate change, a report - published in timely fashion just ahead of the county’s environmental awards ceremony - charts the work that’s being carried out.

Flooding in Penzance Road, Kesgrave, in 2014

Flooding in Penzance Road, Kesgrave, in 2014 - Credit: Archant

John Grant analyses the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership’s annual review for 2014.

Suffolk has a “mountain to climb” if it is to hit its carbon emissions reduction target set for 2025 – but mountains are climbed with little steps and huge determination and the county is scaling the heights inch by inch.

That is the message that shines through the newly published Suffolk Climate Change Partnership annual review that covers the immense amount of work carried out in 2014 to push the county ever nearer that emissions target.

The partnership works under the Suffolk Creating the Greenest County banner and consists of Suffolk’s local authorities and the Environment Agency, with other organisations including the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Groundwork Suffolk and Sustainability East.

In a section of the 2014 review headed “Our Vision”, the partnership says: “We have a shared interest in supporting Suffolk’s communities, businesses and residents to reduce carbon emissions, realise the economic benefits of reducing energy consumption and adapt to the future impacts of climate change.

“Our Vision, as set out in ‘Transforming Suffolk’, the Community Strategy 2008-2025, is that ‘Suffolk wants to be an exemplar in tackling climate change and protecting and enhancing its natural...environment...to be the county with the greatest reduction in carbon emissions’.

A beautiful warm day in Aldeburgh.

A beautiful warm day in Aldeburgh. - Credit: Archant

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“In support of this vision we have a target to facilitate a reduction in emissions of 60% across the county by 2025, against a 2004 baseline. We use data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to monitor progress against this target. These data tell us that emissions across the county fell by less than 12% between 2004 and 2012, or at barely a half of the required reduction trajectory.

“Given the difficult financial circumstances forming the backdrop for much of this period, we have a mountain to climb in order to realise our shared target.”

It continues, in a section headed “Value for money”: “Our partnership approach and strong reputation for delivering projects in support of this agenda means we have been able to draw in significant amounts of funding to deliver initiatives which achieve results – some £9.57million as of November 2014, plus a further £26m of domestic energy efficiency installations resulting from local authority-endorsed activities during a previous funding regime.”

The partnership was “working hard to add significantly to this in 2015” and it adds: “This all proves great value for money for Suffolk’s local authorities!”

In a section of the review on domestic energy efficiency, the partnership says: “Tackling domestic energy efficiency in Suffolk is a crucial element in our ambition to be the county with the greatest reduction in carbon emissions.

“We have set ourselves the hugely ambitious target of achieving a 60% reduction across the county by 2025 (from a 2004 baseline), and are looking for 201 kilotonnes of reductions from the domestic sector by 2020 in order to remain on track for achieving this.”

Flooding in Observation Court, Ipswich, in 2014

Flooding in Observation Court, Ipswich, in 2014 - Credit: Su Anderson

Last year, councils in the partnership had been awarded £5.7m from Department of Energy and Climate Change from its Green Deal Communities Fund. The money was now being used to demonstrate how the Green Deal can reduce fuel bills and make significant improvements to the energy efficiency and comfort of Suffolk residents’ homes, the review says.

Support to residents was being offered through the Suffolk Energy Action campaign that started in 2013 and provides assessments of the energy performance of homes, identifies potential improvements and provides options and advice for funding.

“Money saved by controlling rising fuel bills is money that can be spent here in Suffolk,” the review says. “Added to this, the service places particular emphasis on using local installers to undertake the work, thus supporting Suffolk’s low-carbon economy.”

By the end of January 2015 more than 1,000 Suffolk residents had opted to have a Green Deal Assessment - subsidised through Suffolk Energy Action - and many more were expected to follow.

In a section of the review headed Business Resource Efficiency, the review says an environmental business advisory service acted as “an excellent starting point for businesses looking to reduce their energy bills, carbon footprint and environmental impact.”

Since 2008, the services, run in partnership with Groundwork Suffolk, had provided face-face-to resource efficiency support to more than 750 small to medium-size businesses and social enterprises.

It had identified potential annual energy bill savings of more than £2.7m and potential annual CO2 emission reductions of almost 13,000 tonnes, and the service continued to identify annual savings of 10% - 35% on businesses’ energy costs and carbon emissions.

Evaluation work to date had shown that at least 23% of the services’ recommendations were implemented, “evidencing nearly £623,300 and 3,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions”.

Suffolk’s Carbon Charter accreditation scheme, says the review, represents “the strength and breadth of Suffolk’s green economy and with nearly 250 accreditations, the charter (www.greensuffolk.org/charter) uses Greenest County branding to accredit businesses at one of thee levels - gold, silver and bronze - reflecting their progress towards sustainability.”

Launched at the start of 2014 was Suffolk’s Carbon Leaders scheme that offers up to four days of flexible support as part of the drive for energy reduction in the county’s leading businesses. “It has already seen over 100 businesses signing up, being supported to identify average savings of £45,000 per year - with a payback on investment of three years,” says the review.

In addition, the East Coast Carbon Efficiency programme had successfully supported 200 small to medium-size businesses in the Suffolk Coastal and rural Waveney areas to save money by making resource efficiency savings and improve the sustainability of their supply chain.

The Suffolk SABRE scheme – Support and Advice around Renewable Energy – had won a national Green Apple Environment Award in its final year of operation, after having supported 120 businesses and enterprises over the last three years.

As Suffolk County Council cabinet member for localities, environment and waste Beccy Hopfensperger says in an introduction to the review, there was plenty of work carried out in 2014.

“2014 was a busy year for the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership, in what for the UK looks to have been the hottest and fourth wettest year on record for the series dating back to 1910,” she says.

“This means that eight of the UK’s top 10 warmest years have occurred since 2002 and five of the UK’s top six wettest years have occurred since 2000, reinforcing more than ever the need to support our communities and businesses to reduce carbon emissions as well as adapt to a changing climate.”

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