Carbon emissions update
“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.”