Hackney council recently launched the consulation on their draft Climate Action Plan and we're preparing our response. It has taken them a while to get to this point, more than three years after declaring a climate emergency, but we see this as a really positive step for Hackney and want to help make the plan as good as it can be.
As we've developed our response we have been inviting members to come to our meetings, held a CAP workshop at our AGM, got involved in the council's workshops on the CAP, and we are sharing our initial thoughts here. We are inviting you to comment, both directly on the council consultation, and to let us know how you think the CAP draft could be improved.
The draft Climate Action Plan
The draft CAP is a bit overwhelming at first: at 82 pages it is quite a lot to take in and not bedtime reading! The summary document is easier to digest at 20 pages and this is a good place to start. It contains the nub of the plan broken down into five themes: adaptation, buildings, transport, consumption and environment with goals for 2030 and objectives for the next three years: these are the key sections that you are invited to respond to in the consultation.
You don't need to respond to everything: you can just suggest changes to one or two goals or objectives in an area that interests you. Do the goals and objectives make sense to you, what else should be included, how will they impact you?
There is also an implementation plan: the actions the council is proposing to take to meet the goals and objectives put forward in the CAP. This implementation plan is not part of the consultation, but we will be commenting on it anyway as part of our response.
Our general comments on the CAP
We regard the CAP as a useful work in progress which needs some additional elements to turn it into a driver for the change we all need to achieve Hackney’s climate goals. We will also be suggesting specific changes to goas, objectives and implementation plans.
Many of the goals, objectives and action plans need to be strengthened with specific targets. In some cases there should be actions to establish baselines and set targets and also to estimate the impact in terms of carbon reduction. This is a common theme throughout the document.
The CAP goals are specified as 2030 goals, but the objectives and action plans have a three-year timescale. There needs to be a commitment to reviewing and updating all the objectives and action plans by 2026.
The baseline emissions for the borough are detailed in the document, but we cannot drill down into how these were derived as the baseline report has not been published. The council has said that the net-zero target would include embodied emissions for new build, but these appear to be omitted from the baseline.
There needs to be more clarity about the scope of the net zero target. In 2020 the consultants reported on work scoping the target emissions to the scrutiny committee which suggested a net zero scope of 29% of borough-wide emissions, but this is not confirmed in the draft CAP so the scope is still unclear. There also needs to be clarity about the baseline tonnage as the 45% reduction target for 2030 is from a 2010 baseline, while the CAP uses a 2018 baseline.
When carbon targets are mentioned in the document it needs to be clear whether this refers to the council's emissions, the borough-wide emissions or the target (in scope) emissions. Often they are used interchangeably and this has the potential to create confusion.
We welcome the council's recent commitment to rejoin the UK100, as it brings the net-zero target for some council emissions forward to 2030. The scope of this new commitment and how it relates to the previous commitments (45% reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2040) needs to be made clear.
There needs to be a vision in the CAP of the pathway to net-zero. Are the goals, objectives and action plans in line with the borough-wide net-zero target? Are they sufficient? What is the expected impact of the proposed measures? The CAP should also clarify the policy on the use of carbon offsets, which it has been suggested will be needed to cover at least 6% of the target.
To properly steer this project monitoring will be essential, but the draft CAP defers this to next year saying only that "A defined monitoring framework for Council emissions is scheduled to be in draft form by April 2023". It does not mention monitoring borough-wide emissions or reporting against the borough-wide emissions target.
The Climate Action Plan is a plan for the whole borough that everyone needs to get involved in but there is a disappointing lack of plans for engagement and communicating the CAP to residents, and no mention of a citizen's assembly, first promised in the climate emergency declaration and re-iterated in the recent election manifesto. Demands for an assembly will continue in the face of a lack of credible proposals for alternative means of engagement.
Finally there are no clear plans for scrutiny beyond a statement that "The establishment of appropriate external governance is therefore required." We agree, and propose this should include the establishment of a community panel to scrutinise the plans, actions, targets, and progress of delivery.
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