Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's average temperatures and weather patterns. We are already higher temperature across the world, more frequent extreme weather events and rising sea levels. In the UK, we are now experiencing hotter winters, more frequent flooding and droughts.
Since the industrial revolution, levels of certain gases have increased in our atmosphere due to increased emissions from human activities. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) trap and re-emit the sun’s energy, warming the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the GHG which contributes the most to this effect and is released when fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) are burnt. Average global temperatures have risen as CO2 levels have increased.
What have we done in Southampton?
The main sources of these gases in the UK are transport, energy supply, and agriculture. We know that we can help to make a big contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in Southampton.
Here are some of the schemes we have already introduced to tackle the causes of climate change:
- We introduced a Carbon Reduction Policy and Low Carbon City Strategy in 2010/11. We have been able to report a 54% reduction in carbon emissions associated with corporate buildings and street lighting since then
- In 2019, we switched all of our commercial buildings to renewable energy
- In 2009, we started to fit solar panels on council buildings that generate enough electricity to power 200 homes
- To date, we have fitted 44 electric vehicle charging points and two taxi-only rapid chargers
- We’ve encouraged, promoted and incentivised the use of sustainable and active travel through My Journey - a sustainable travel programme delivered by local councils and partners
- In 2018, we launched our own energy provider - CitizEn Energy. Providing 100% renewable electricity to homes across Southampton, the midlands and the South West. In 2019, our customers helped to remove over 1,500 tonnes of CO2 from the environment
The city has also benefited from a district heating scheme over the last 25 years – providing low carbon heat and chilled water to the Civic Centre and other buildings, saving around 10,000 tonnes of carbon a year.
Many of our ongoing schemes to prevent emissions of air pollutants in the city have also lowered emissions of CO2 by reducing the fuel use of different types of transport.
What more will we do in Southampton?
Our vision is to create a cleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable city. Southampton will be a better place for present and future generations, prepared for the challenges presented by climate change. We have asked stakeholders across the city to pledge support to our vision.
In 2019, we launched our Green City Charter to create a better place for present and future generations that is prepared for the challenges presented by climate change. The Charter details the nine challenging, ambitious goals we have set ourselves to ensure we achieve our vision.
We want to lead the way, our Green City Delivery Plan will seek to make our operations achieve net-zero carbon by 2030. Our plans include:
- Reviewing our carbon reduction policy to help us reach our goal of being carbon neutrality
- Reinvigorating our energy improvement programme across our commercial property with a new Clean Growth Fund
- Introducing a council fleet renewal scheme to increase the numbers of zero or low emission vehicles
- Identify areas for new electric vehicle charging units across the city. We will also work with partners to create plans for on-street residential charging units
- Support partners across the city to review current activity with the aim of reducing carbon footprint and impact on the local environment