By Ed Brown and Jack Williamson
Sheffield City Council has come under scrutiny from Sheffield environmental groups after unveiling their plans to reduce carbon emissions.
The council will be holding its first Zero Carbon Summit this Friday. Here, it will release the findings from its Pathways to Zero report, which lays out how to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 85% by 2030.
But the council already pledged in 2019 to be a zero carbon city by 2030.
Richard Teasdale, 52, Local Group Coordinator for Sheffield Greenpeace, was concerned by the council adjusting their carbon neutrality targets.
“They are already tempering the target to 85%, it is almost as if to say, ‘s**t, we are not going to get to a hundred, it is just impossible’” he said.
Mr Teasdale was only made aware of the summit via a council email when it had nearly sold out. The summit is being hosted virtually on Zoom, which has a maximum capacity of 1000 people on a single call.
He said: “1000 isn’t exactly ‘wow’, when the population of Sheffield is roughly 700,000.”
“An invitation would have been nice,” said a spokesperson from Sheffield Environmental.
“I expect a lot of words to be said about how Sheffield is the greenest city in the country.
“But those words will mean very little unless they are setting targets that are fully accountable.”
Lindy Stone, a Sheffield Friends of the Earth coordinator, shared Sheffield Environmental’s concerns.
She said: “Success in reaching Net Zero by 2030, which is necessary for the future health and wellbeing of our children and grandchildren, requires genuine leadership.”
“So far, there has been a reticence to take the actions required.”
“Now is not the time for timidity” she added.
Funds for climate projects are already limited, with the City Council already forecasting a £72 million shortfall in their budget over the next four years due to COVID-19.
Councillor Mark Jones, cabinet member for the environment and climate change, defended the City Council’s plans. He said: “We knew that zero carbon was an ambitious commitment and would be a challenge, but these reports give us a clear, evidenced-based route we can take to reduce emissions.”
“Recent progress includes our plans for a greener vehicle fleet and installation of new electric charge points and we continue to prioritise sustainability across projects and policies.”