Improving our environment, saving money, supporting better health

In my final blog of 2015, I’d like to provide an update on our work to tackle climate change.

My recent visit to the Paris summit for local leaders was an excellent chance to pick up new ideas and express our support for this crucial global work. The cities and districts who joined together discussed zero carbon economies and issues like how to deliver traffic and housing schemes in a much greener way.

We looked at practical ideas for making significant change – the sort of change that urban areas can make but which governments cannot. It was an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most cutting-edge cities and districts and find out more about what’s needed for a sustainable future.

Another reason for the event, which brought together leaders from around the world (including Seoul, Montreal, Chicago, Sydney, Berlin, Rio and Johannesburg), was to put pressure on national governments who were convening soon afterwards at COP21. It’s vital that we all work together in reducing carbon, not only to help the environment but also to save money and improve health.

People attending the summit agreed that climate change is our common challenge and that finding solutions is a shared responsibility. There was also recognition that climate change already harms millions of people and must be tackled for the sake of future generations.

Here in Kirklees we have a strong history of delivering projects to reduce our carbon output. We continue to work hard on issues such as getting traffic to move more quickly and aiming to build council homes to Passivhaus standards, which means they are highly energy efficient and also cheaper to run.

To highlight our commitment, a motion was recently approved at a meeting of all Kirklees councillors. Several points were agreed, including that the council recognises the challenge and threat of climate change both locally and internationally and that the council agrees with the growing movement to move away from fossil fuels.

As a next step, we will be looking into the possibility of avoiding direct investment in organisations which are linked to fossil fuel extraction. Importantly, using our links into the Local Government Association and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, we’ll be encouraging other councils to review their investments in the same way.

Happy new year


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