In January 2016, in the wake of the Paris Climate Conference, Winchester City Council issued a press release on local progress towards reducing carbon emissions, saying: 

The outcome from the Conference was that almost 200 countries agreed that the world needs to keep global warming below 2˚C.

Cllr Frank Pearson, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment, Health & Wellbeing, commented:

Each country made its own commitment, showing what it will do to keep emissions down. The Winchester District needs to do its share to meet the UK and global targets, and at the City Council we are determined to play our part. I call on all local people and businesses to join us to make the world safer for our children and grandchildren.

To coincide with the Conference, the Council approved a set of Twelve Actions for a Lower Carbon Winchester which set out how it will use its influence – for example, through procurement, through the planning process, through changes to its own estate – to encourage further reduction of the District’s carbon footprint.

The seventh independent annual assessment of the Council’s own carbon footprint of its buildings and vehicles for the period April 2014 to March 2015 lists many steps the Council has already taken.

The main success in reducing emissions recently, according to the report, is by cutting the mileage travelled by refuse collection lorries which consume a gallon of petrol for every three or four miles travelled on their rounds. New, low-emission streetlights led to an 11% reduction in electricity consumption from that source. Other small changes combined to reduce gas and electricity used to heat and light Guildhall Winchester and the Council Offices.

In its new Twelve Actions for a Lower Carbon Council, commitments were made to review waste freighter routes to reduce emissions even more, to buy the most energy-efficient equipment and fittings for Council buildings, and to ensure that new contracts for public transport, such as buses, require emissions to be reduced.

The carbon footprint of new buildings and homes is important. So the Council has also promised to reduce the carbon footprint of the proposed new leisure facilities to as close to zero as financially and technically feasible. It will also ensure that proposals for all new major developments are judged on their contribution to cutting the carbon footprint of the District and shifting from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

The City Council will seek to smooth the path for renewable energy initiatives, such as solar and hydro-power, and plans to install solar panels on the Council estate whenever this makes financial sense and the location and structures are suitable. Officers are currently inviting owners of non-residential buildings to consider a joint project to install more solar panels in the City, and are keen to hear from businesses who might like take part in the initiative which is led by Winchester Town Forum.

Staff and councillors will be trained in eco-driving that cuts miles per gallon, and the parking policy will be reviewed in 2016 to align it more closely with the Council’s economic strategy, including the objective of building a local low-carbon economy.

The Council works in close partnership with Winchester Action on Climate Change, whose Director Chris Holloway welcomed the Council’s renewed commitment and said:

The Paris Agreement on the climate is great news - now, the work begins to turn the hopes into reality. So I’m very pleased to see the Council setting out real, practical actions that will make a difference. River Park Leisure Centre was responsible for 30% of the Council’s emissions from its use of gas for heating and electricity for air handling and lighting. Clearly there will be opportunities to greatly reduce this in the design of the new Centre. Wherever the new facilities are built, they could be combined with energy production and showcase low-carbon technologies such as heat recovery and renewable energy. 

The Twelve Actions for a Lower Carbon Council are attached.