A step forward has been made in the Isle of Wight’s fight against climate change.
In an important and fundamental decision, the Isle of Wight Council has approved ‘Mission Zero’, the climate and environmental strategy which sets out how the Island can be carbon-neutral by 2040 — 10 years before the government target.
The council only has direct control over about 1% of the Island’s carbon admissions but has vowed to make all its assets carbon neutral by 2030, with schools following suit by 2035.
The council has been developing the strategy since it declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019 and has come up with an accompanying action plan, setting out 160 measures.
Councillor Jonathan Bacon, the cabinet member for environment, heritage and waste management, said since the declaration 2 years ago, perceptions and ideas have changed, particularly with the recent extreme weather. He said:
“Apart from the most blinkered people, we recognise there is a problem and it needs to be dealt with.
“We are just a small part of the national and worldwide jigsaw but we need everyone to do what they can, hence the strategy.
“Apart from carbon neutrality, our approach is to seek wider benefits to assist a sustainable future and protect and enhance our environment here on the Island.”
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Some of the actions in the plan will encourage job creation in environmental sectors, such as clean energy and energy efficiency, while also signposting private homeowners, landlords and new housing developments to meet future net carbon zero standards.
The authority will have a maximum carbon offset of 15% through rewilding and land-use schemes on council-owned land.
The strategy, Cllr Bacon said, will be constantly reviewed and updated as technology and circumstances develop, undergoing formal reviews after the first nine months and then every 6 months after.
Cllr Bacon said working together with other council strategies, the climate strategy will form a matrix of what the new Alliance administration is trying to do, ‘pursuing the aims of improved health, improved environment and improved economic opportunity.’
Councillor Ian Stephens, deputy leader of the council, said it will be a challenge for the authority to tackle and would not be easy but they should go for it and show the Isle of Wight Council is a forward-thinking council, looking to do its little bit for the planet and a ‘hell of a lot’ for the people of the Island.