The climate emergency has been at the front and centre of Council policy for some years and will be going forward, explained Lead Councillor for Net Zero Carbon Cllr Rachel Sutton. In fact we began this journey many years ago on a number of actions with one great example being Labour’s drive to get Exeter City Council generating green energy.
She said: “We we retrofitted around 300 council houses to make them both more energy efficient and climate ready, which also tackles fuel poverty.
“We are converting our own fleets of vehicles, including in the future our large diesel refuse vehicles, to run on electricity, and they will be powered by the new solar farm which is being constructed at Water Lane in Marsh Barton.”
Cllr Sutton said the Council’s investment is super energy-efficient buildings including building to the Passivhaus standard has reinforced its environmental commitment.
She said: “Coming up soon is the opening of St Sidwell’s Point, and that will be the first Passivhaus leisure centre and swimming pool in the country, so that is a really big plus for Exeter. It will be a wonderful experience for our citizens and I can’t wait to get in to exercise in the gym or have a swim.
Is Exeter able to become a net Zero Carbon city by 2030?
Exeter can realise its environmental ambitions and become a Net Zero Carbon City as long as organisations and individuals all play their part. That is the message from the city’s , as she highlighted how even small changes in our lives can make a big difference collectively.
“We are doing our bit but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we need our partners in the city and the big employers to work with us and look at their own carbon emissions, and we have to tackle things like transport, in collaboration with the County Council.”
Cllr Sutton said residents in the city can make a big difference, even with small changes in lifestyle.
She said: “I think we can all take a look at how we use our cars. We know that around half the journeys that happen in the city are around one-and-a-quarter miles.
“Now there area lot of us who could walk that, or get on our bikes, including electric bikes which can be hired. Again, it’s not one size fits all, but are people able to walk their children to school, or go by bike rather than putting them in the car? We can look at how we live our lives and where we buy our energy from, is it coming from renewable sources?
“I think if we all start to look at those types of things then collectively we can all start to make a difference.”
Despite the size of the task she said she remains optimistic that the city can rise to the challenges ahead.
Cllr Sutton said: “I am optimistic because I think people really care about it. I think we have to be ambitious, it is a huge challenge, but if we all look at what we can do to contribute, and the big employers work with us on some of the major things, we can make a difference.
“But it does mean that people will have to change their behaviour, we will have to look at where and how often we drive, cutting down on food waste, possibly eating more meat-free meals. Obviously we will all also be looking at cutting down the energy we use at home as energy prices rise. There is all sorts of little things we can do, and a lot of people doing little things can add up to a lot.”