Four Yorkshire cities achieve global environmental leadership status

Fri, 11/17/2023 - 12:31


Four cities in Yorkshire and Humber have been recognised for taking bold leadership on environmental action and transparency in a new list published by renowned international authority the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). 

Leeds City Council, Wakefield Council, City of York Council and Kirklees Council have all been granted A list status in CDP’s 2023 list, ranking them alongside the likes of New York, Paris, Melbourne, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Cape Town. 

Of the 939 global cities reporting and scored by CDP, only 13% received an 'A'. The rating signifies cities are demonstrating climate leadership through concerted and effective action, reporting taking four times as many mitigation and adaptation measures as non-A List cities.  

The four Yorkshire councils were among 26 UK cities to receive an A rating. 

The rating has been achieved despite the challenging global economic situation and national and local pressures on local councils.  

Recent CDP data shows that 80% of cities are facing climate hazards, such as heatwaves and floods, and 70% expect those hazards to become more intense, making concerted climate action from cities crucial. 

Leeds shows leadership 

Leeds’ contribution to climate change (the district’s annual greenhouse gas emissions) have decreased by 38% since 2005, from 6.3 to 3.9 million tonnes of carbon. The council’s own carbon footprint has shrunk by nearly two thirds (63%) over a similar period and climate change is a key strategic priority for Leeds City Council. 

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council's Executive Member for climate, energy, environment and green space, said: “I am incredibly proud that the city’s efforts on climate have been recognised and that Leeds has once again been identified as a global leader when it comes to local climate action. 

“Over the last eight years, we’ve secured and committed a massive investment—£850 million—into our city for climate schemes, mostly from external grants. This money is already having immediate benefits for the people of Leeds. 

 “Leeds is an ambitious city. Despite an incredibly challenging financial situation shared by councils nationwide and a changing policy environment, we have made great progress. We will continue taking bold action to help households, support businesses, improve transport, and reduce the future impacts of extreme weather.” 

Success for York 

York, like Leeds, is on the CDP A list for the second year running and also shares with Leeds an ambition to be a net-zero carbon city by 2030.  

York’s draft 'Climate Adaptation and Resilience Report', recognising the accelerated pace of climate change and the need to make good long-term decisions to safeguard the city, will be presented at Executive Member Decision Session on 21 November. 

City of York Councillor Kate Ravilious, Joint Executive Member for Environment and Climate Emergency, said: “This recognition is a significant achievement and demonstrates that York is a global leader in climate action. 

“No organisation can deliver impact change of this scale alone. I would like to thank the many partners, community groups and residents that have helped to create our plans and fully share this high recognition. 

“A-rated cities like York are demonstrating their climate leadership through concerted and effective action. We are still at the beginning of our journey and there is still lots to be done to ensure we build a sustainable and green city for the benefit of future generations.” 

Kirklees ‘top of the class’ 

Kirklees Council - which was also the first local authority in West Yorkshire to sign up to the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Action Pledge – was awarded £100k from the Net Zero Region Accelerator programme to maximize the potential for renewable energy generation in Kirklees. It has also secured funding of £8.2 million for the Huddersfield District Energy Network, due for completion by the end of 2026. 

 A new ‘Environment Strategy, Everyday Life’ for Kirklees, and its associated partnership pledge, which has been co-designed with people who live, work, and study in Kirklees, will be taken to Full Council for approval in February 2024.  

Councillor Yusra Hussain, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, said: “We are incredibly pleased to be top of the class with our A score in the CDP results this year, it is a true reflection of our hard work towards the climate emergency.  

“It is no secret that we are all currently experiencing a period of national uncertainty, where the landscape for green policies, environmental ambition and associated funding is shifting... despite this, we have continued to make strides in addressing key environmental issues, such as the climate emergency, where our Net Zero and Climate Ready by 2038 target is 12 years in advance of the national target of 2050.”  

Win for Wakefield 

Wakefield Council is another West Yorkshire local authority celebrating A list status in recognition of its best practice standards and ambitious goals for tackling climate change. 

Councillor Jack Hemingway, Cabinet member for Climate Change and Environment – who is also a Vice Chair of Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission – said: “We are very pleased to have received the highest ‘A’ rating in recognition of the work we are doing alongside our partners to tackle climate change.  

 "It is very positive to be recognised by this independent organisation for the progress we are making. We published our Climate Change Action Plan in 2020 and have set a target to be a net zero organisation by 2030.  

“We are not complacent and are committed to a programme of action to help meet our goals.” 

Image -Graphical representation of the Leeds PIPES district heating network (Leeds City Council)