The consultation on the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Action Plan is now closed. The headline actions identified below are in draft form and are being updated following the consultation, which involved feedback from over 500 people.
The Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission (YHCC) is an independent advisory body that has brought together a wide range of public, private and third sector actors to support, guide and track the delivery of an ambitious climate action plan across the region.
The Commission has four inter-related aims:
- to foster climate resilience and adaptation to climate risks and impacts
- to support rapid progress towards net zero carbon emissions
- to encourage a just and inclusive transition and climate actions that leave no-one and nowhere behind
- to promote sustainability and climate actions that also protect nature and biodiversity.
- The Commission is committed to working towards its goals by enabling engagement, supporting constructive debate, strengthening the evidence base, promoting best practice, helping to build capacities for financing and delivery and regularly reviewing progress.
The Action Plan
This action plan is intended to be a positive and constructive document that will inform and guide climate actions across the region in the years to come. This first draft of the action plan has been drawn up based on extensive collaborations between the main Commission (with 40 members from diverse organisations across the region), and by the Commission’s resilience and net zero working groups and standing panels (each with a broader membership base).
The Commission is embarking on extensive stakeholder consultations through September to review and refine the action plan and to build the legitimacy and a sense of shared ownership of the action plan.
The text below presents the headline actions that the Commission proposes to include in the action plan. The action plan itself will include more context and more detail on the specific actions proposed. Once finalised, the Commission will work to promote the delivery of the action plan through all of its activities and engagements in the coming years. While the action plan has no formal status and the Commission operates as an advisory body rather than a delivery agency, the action plan will be submitted to the Yorkshire Leaders Board for formal consideration.
Climate Action Plan: Preliminary draft of headline actions for consultation
- Acknowledge that the climate and ecological emergency is real and accept that not responding with the required urgency and ambition will both prolong our contribution to the problem and make the impacts on our region worse.
- Develop a positive vision that shows how ambitious climate action to accelerate progress to net zero and improve resilience to climate change at the regional scale can make Yorkshire and Humber a happier, healthier, fairer and more prosperous place to live and work.
- Take people with us by involving people from across the region - especially young people, marginalised communities and people with different opinions - in the discussion and demonstrating that our response will be fair and inclusive.
- Focus on delivery by moving beyond targets to focus on how we can actually deliver ambitious, accelerated progress towards net zero and enhanced resilience across the region.
- Build a sense of shared responsibility by not depending on any one to do this for us, but by recognising that we all have a contribution to make.
- Ensure our anchor institutions lead the way by asking our major organisations to demonstrate real, meaningful leadership by both advancing climate resilience and accelerating the transition to net zero.
- Act in a consistent and joined-up way by putting the climate agenda at the heart of all of our major policy, planning and investment decisions and by ensuring that all of our climate actions are fully joined-up and coherent.
- Advance education and engagement by integrating climate change into the curriculum in schools, colleges and universities, and by promoting climate and carbon literacy for individuals and organisations across the region.
- Secure jobs and skills by addressing the opportunities to create good new green jobs, by supporting existing employers and employees to adapt, and by developing a regional network of excellence in climate related training and skills provision.
- Accelerate investment in climate friendly development by prioritising investments in climate friendly development, and by building a climate finance platform that helps to bring forward and develop new projects and programmes that can contribute to resilience and/or net zero and to connect them to new forms of finance and investment.
- Foster innovation and make best practice the new normal by finding ways to stimulate climate-facing innovation and developing a regional incubator/demonstrator network that allows good ideas to grow and people to learn from and replicate best practice across the region.
- Protect critical natural capital and transition to blue-green infrastructure by protecting key natural assets such as peat bogs, forests and flood zones, and by promoting nature-based solutions that protect biodiversity, green spaces and wild areas.
- Develop a climate observatory that surveys emerging issues and risks, searches for best practice, collates the best available evidence, enables monitoring, evaluation and learning and tracks progress towards our carbon targets and resilience ambitions.
- Rethink progress and the dependence on GDP as a key indicator by developing a sustainable progress index for the region that adopts a wider view by measuring progress based on different forms of capital (human, social, natural, intellectual, manufactured, financial).
- Showcase Yorkshire and the Humber as a region that is leading in the delivery of ambitious climate action, and connect with national government to make sure we have support and a clear, stable policy environment.
Actions on climate readiness and resilience
People, health and wellbeing
- Develop new, inclusive approaches to climate risk communication – tailored to different audiences to effectively communicate the relevance and meaningfulness of resilience to everyone, including opportunities based on youth and community networking
- Encourage and facilitate the wider adoption of area-wide and site-specific climate adaptation plans and actions – whether by combined or local authorities or the managers of key sites such as schools, hospitals, transport interchanges etc., recognising the opportunity to align with net zero action, for example through retrofitting, and the need to be flexible in response to climate uncertainty
- Promote resilience actions that offer health and wellbeing co-benefits – delivering the huge opportunity for climate action to lead to improved physical and mental wellbeing and more liveable homes and communities, in urban and rural areas
Land, water, nature and food
- Promote resilience in land use – by restoring and enhancing the region’s many key natural assets, including peatbogs, soils, woodland cover and biodiversity, while also contributing to net zero targets.
- Planning to happen at landscape scale – understanding that vulnerability in one area can lead to vulnerability in another, creating a need to work together across natural and political boundaries
- Prepare the food and farming sector for current and future changes – through skills and knowledge development, network building, stakeholder engagement and forums that can plan for long-term trends and changes
- Promoting nature-based solutions – to support the development of blue and green resilient infrastructure wherever possible, recognising that this will contribute to net zero and to our response to the ecological as well as the climate crisis.
Business and industry
- Promote climate resilience in business and industry – including through enhanced risk assessment, management and communication (including the application of ISO/BSI standards and guidance), and through collaboration and the sharing of best practice.
- Support the development of a regional network of centres of excellence in vocational climate readiness and resilience training to include applied understanding of nature and food systems, the transition towards a greener economy, and the potential for blue green infrastructure and nature-based solutions.
- Development and delivery of standards – promote high standards and best practice approaches to investing in, designing, and constructing blue-green infrastructure. To include standards on avoidance of new development in high risk areas, accounting for climate change for the lifetime of the project, and building back better.
- Resilience planning that fully aligns and integrates all infrastructure sectors – recognising that systems interactions and interdependencies mean that if one part of the network isn’t resilient, none of it is.
- Investment in digital infrastructure – to enable effective emergency responses and strengthen back-up for essential services such as health and education and to enable rapid recovery in all urban and rural areas
- Build climate readiness though improved emergency and recovery planning – by promoting multi-agency collaborations, provision of climate response training for emergency responders, support for local resilience forums, and the development of community risk registers
- Promote the provision and uptake of affordable, comprehensive flood insurance – for home owners, tenants and business owners
- Develop plans for the long-term management of coastal change and loss – working with communities to manage and respond to acute events such as storm surges, and chronic events, including sea level rise and loss of land
Actions on net zero
- Build on our current targets, including our regional target of moving towards net zero emissions by 2038 with significant progress by 2030, and of all of our local targets that when combined are broadly in line with science-based targets consistent with avoiding dangerous climate change, but accept the UK Committee on Climate Change’s call for these budgets to be extended to incorporate aviation and shipping emissions.
- Adopt an efficiency-first strategy by recognising that reducing energy demand is the most effective and efficient option and by promoting ambitious demand reduction and energy efficiency initiatives across all sectors.
- Develop a smart and flexible grid by developing local/regional energy action plans that enable us to manage demand and match it with supply (including through energy storage and load spreading and the application of smart technologies).
- Support large scale, sustainable energy generation, including bio-energy and hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and the continued development of off-shore wind, as long as in each instance the highest sustainability standards are met.
- Promote community energy and distributed renewables by actively enabling distributed (and especially community led/owned) schemes on solar, wind, AD, air/ground/water source heating and district heating.
- Deliver ambitious retrofit for housing through a regional retrofit scheme for council and social housing, an initiative to enable investment in rented housing, support for owner-occupied retrofit (e.g. through house-level net zero plans and service records) and the promotion of area/neighbourhood retrofit schemes that address net zero and resilience in a joined-up way.
- Deliver ambitious retrofit for public and commercial buildings through the promotion of climate action in sectors such as local government, health and education, and in the commercial sector, especially by promoting the highest standards of retrofit when buildings change ownership/purpose.
- Explore ways to better address climate objectives in heritage buildings and conservation areas by developing progressive design standards that allow old buildings to be sensitively upgraded to address both the net zero and resilience aspects of climate challenge.
- Adopt the highest energy efficiency standards for new developments by ensuring that all new developments meet the highest possible whole-life energy efficiency standards, and by ensuring that new developments are also climate resilient.
- Reduce demand for transport by making best use of digital technologies for home working and virtual meetings etc., promoting 20-minute neighbourhoods and compact, connected, mixed-use and transit-oriented development and by promoting behaviour change, including for key sources of carbon emissions areas such as frequent flying.
- Enable active travel, again through 20-minute neighbourhoods and especially through the widespread delivery of ambitious, joined up plans for walking and cycling.
- Promote public transport through the wider development of mass-transit schemes and the active promotion of bus, train and tram travel, and through the introduction of specific travel plans for rural areas.
- Support for zero emissions vehicles through the provision of EV charging infrastructure for cars and vans, hydrogen infrastructure for heavy goods and agricultural vehicles and innovative approaches to logistics and last mile distribution.
Business, industry and infrastructure
- Support net zero transitions in business and industry by promoting energy/resource efficiency and the circular economy, enhancing access to alternative fuel sources (including green hydrogen), developing net zero industrial zones and enhancing access to CCS.
- Support net zero agriculture and food production by promoting sustainable innovations in agriculture and food production, changes in consumer behaviour (including to local/regional and seasonal produce) and reductions in food waste.
- Support net zero infrastructure by promoting green infrastructure and nature-based solutions that avoid the need for more carbon-intensive investments, and by promoting climate resilient developments that reduce the need for potentially carbon intensive climate resilience schemes.
Land-use and nature
- Promote net zero in land use by protecting and enhancing key natural assets including peatbogs, by supporting tree planting and forest creation (for carbon sequestration, climate resilience, biodiversity enhancement) and supporting biofuel production with the highest sustainability standards.
- Promote changes in land-use planning – that enable compact, connected, mixed-use new developments that incorporate green spaces, nature-based solutions and integrate blue-green infrastructure and by providing better protection for natural areas.
Resource efficiency and the circular economy
- Promote the highest standards in resource efficiency/waste management and the circular economy through initiatives that reduce material and energy consumption, facilitate circular resource flows, develop industrial clusters that promote resource efficiency and facilitate sustainable waste management (including through energy recovery with the highest sustainability standards).
Lifestyles and consumption
- Address our wider impact by promoting more sustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns by acknowledging the significance of our wider carbon footprint and by promoting behaviour change, especially for key sources of impact such as diet and flying and for key issues such as the growth of the throwaway society, whilst recognising the importance of inequality and the vastly uneven carbon impacts of lower and higher income groups.