We must accelerate efforts to become carbon neutral

Neil MacDonald with solar panel

Neil MacDonald with council officials admiring the new solar panels in Kingfisher Avenue. - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council

The past few weeks have produced a steady stream of evidence about how global heating is making our planet a less hospitable place for humans to live.

The “heat dome” over north America has led to record high temperatures. In Pakistan and India temperatures in cities have hit a level too hot for the human body to withstand. Record rainfall has caused flooding that has killed over 100 people in Germany and Belgium.

Global warming has been created by human activity and it is only through concerted action by humans that we can stop this becoming even worse.

We have been steadily cutting Ipswich Borough Council’s carbon emissions for some time by investing in energy efficiency measures. Since 2008 the council’s emissions have reduced by around a third.

But the scale of the problem is now such that these efforts need to be accelerated. Along with most other councils, we have declared a Climate Emergency and pledged to make the Council carbon neutral by 2030.

We’re already working hard to achieve this. Solar panels on Council properties currently generate 445,000 kWh of electricity every year and we’re installing more solar panels on council houses. At least 95% of the Council’s vehicle fleet will be powered by electric motors by the end of 2021. We are starting to replace our gas boilers with alternative heating systems.

But this still leaves a huge amount to do. In 2019 the Council’s electricity use was the equivalent of 1605 tonnes of carbon dioxide and gas was 2254 tonnes.

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So, last week, we agreed to move to new energy contracts which will only use zero carbon electricity and “green” gas. These new contracts will reduce the Council’s emissions by more than 80%. An added bonus is that, by using a bulk-buying mechanism, our energy bills should actually be cheaper – saving money while helping save the planet.

That’s not the end of the story. We still need to move all the Council’s heating away from gas, replace our remaining petrol and diesel vehicles and continue to implement energy efficiency measures. 

But, by moving to these new contracts, we will have taken a huge step towards achieving our goal of making the Council carbon neutral by 2030.

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