WHEN it comes to tackling climate change, Blaenau Gwent is “up there with the best” according to its council leader Nigel Daniels.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Executive committee on Wednesday, December 15, councillors were given a progress report on how the shift to zero carbon by 2030 is progressing.
There, the council’s managing director, Michelle Morris told councillors that Blaenau Gwent need to report annually on its decarbonisation plans to the Welsh Government with the 2020/21 net zero report being the first one.
Councillors also needed to approve an official response to the Blaenau Gwent Climate Change Conference.
One of the major pieces of work the council needs to do in the coming months, councillors were told, is the “Building Readiness Assessment.”
This will look at all the energy efficiency of all the council’s buildings and properties, look at what needs to be done to make them climate friendly, and then assess the cost.
Ms Morris said: “The data shows we’ve seen a fall in our carbon footprint of 3,292 tonnes which equates to six per cent, it’s a good start.
“But we have to acknowledge that a lot of changes we’ve had to put in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to that, such as practically removing the staff commute impact.
“We do have a lot more work to do and a big challenge ahead of us.”
According to Ms Morris the council’s emissions from its buildings is 22 per-cent, a “big chunk” of its carbon footprint.
Ms Morris added that the changes which come from the buildings assessment “will become part of business as usual” in the future.
“A lot of work still required to reduce that 22 per cent, ” said Ms Morris.
Cllr Daniels said: “There cannot be any doubt about Blaenau Gwent’s commitment to this agenda in any shape or form.
“We’re pretty much up there with the best of them with regards to this.”
Portfolio holder for regeneration and economic development, Cllr Dai Davies said: “The whole thing about change, is it’s so difficult as we’re alien to it and get stuck in our ways.”
“The change is being made and has been brought along for other reasons which we wish we hadn’t had (Covid-19 pandemic) – but the change in the way we work now is becoming the norm.
“We are looking at opportunities to do less travel and communicate in different ways – and that’s working for us.
“The change to our estate on how we can save energy and reduce our carbon footprint is key.”
He added that the public interest in tackling climate change had been highlighted by the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly held in March this year.
“Public interest is a key element and we don’t want to lose that buy in – we can’t do without them,” added Cllr Davies.
Councillors agreed to support the submission of the responses to both the Welsh Government and Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly.
The buildings assessment report is expected to be completed after the May 2022 local elections.