Car­bon emis­sions up­date

The Wokingham Paper - - NEWS -

“NOW that we are emerg­ing from lock­down how can this coun­cil work to con­tinue the huge ben­e­fits that the en­vi­ron­ment has re­ceived from lower car­bon emis­sions?”

That was the ques­tion from Cllr Laura Blu­men­thal to Cllr Gre­gor Mur­ray, the ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for cli­mate emer­gency.

He replied: “The re­sponse to the Covid-19 out­break has pro­vided ev­i­dence that in mod­ern so­ci­ety we can do things dif­fer­ently. Be­fore the start of the pan­demic 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple in the UK worked from home ac­cord­ing to The Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics.

“The lock­down caused an in­stant shift in work­ing habits and meth­ods. An es­ti­mate of 20 mil­lion peo­ple were re­lo­cated to home of­fices. In Wok­ing­ham, the lock­down re­sulted in a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in trans­port.

“Work­place com­mut­ing went down by 54% dur­ing April, hav­ing di­rect ef­fects on con­ges­tion and con­se­quently on im­prov­ing air qual­ity and re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions.”

He added: “Within the Coun­cil, we are work­ing to­wards un­der­stand­ing the im­pacts on the em­ploy­ees from the ex­tended home work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We are ask­ing em­ploy­ees to share their ex­pe­ri­ences and tell us what they have learnt and howwe can use this learn­ing to shape the work en­vi­ron­ment of the fu­ture.”

And he said that the coun­cil has been en­gag­ing with busi­nesses to un­der­stand their work­ing prac­tices and en­cour­age them to con­sider th­ese newways of work­ing in their re­cov­ery plans.

The next ques­tion was from Cllr Pauline Hel­liar-Sy­mons who was not present and will re­ceive a writ­ten an­swer. She wanted to knowwhat had been done to “en­gage with lo­cal and na­tional busi­nesses and learn from their ef­forts in re­duc­ing our own Car­bon Foot­print?”

Cllr Mur­ray said that the coun­cil had set up a Cli­mate Emer­gency Ad­vi­sory Board of ex­perts in this field. This in­volves na­tional and lo­cal busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions, aca­demic and the char­ity sec­tor.

“The Coun­cil is keen to learn how far pos­i­tive changes might be­come em­bed­ded in newways of work­ing and an on­go­ing com­mit­ment to ‘green­ing’ the econ­omy,” he said.

“We are cur­rently em­bark­ing on an ex­ten­sive sur­vey of lo­cal busi­nesses that will in­cor­po­rate get­ting a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how they are op­er­at­ing and adapt­ing in the face of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.”

He con­cluded: “On a note of cau­tious op­ti­mism, Ernst and Young’s re­cent sur­vey con­firms that 57% of busi­nesses sur­veyed felt that cli­mate change and sus­tain­able in­vest­ment will be a re­newed pri­or­ity go­ing for­ward – this is some­thing we can build on lo­cally.”

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