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Climate Emergency Activities – Durham County Council

Despite the challenges of being a rural authority, politicians, corporate managements and staff are united in tackling climate change for the benefit of residents. We are delivering innovative technological, behavioural and organisational projects to ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach. Organisationally we have incorporated climate action into job descriptions, financial planning and strategic planning. Behaviourally we have ambitious projects to engage with schools, communities and council staff, while we are delivering innovation through geothermal heat and zero carbon buildings retrofits.

The declaration of a Climate Emergency in February 2019 was not the start of Durham County Council’s journey to carbon neutrality. Since becoming a unitary authority in 2009, the Council has shown leadership and foresight by funding specialist officers to work on decreasing the Council’s and County’s Carbon Footprint.

Despite the challenges faced by being a rural unitary authority in North East England, with many wards being in the top 10% most deprived nationally, the Council has already reduced emissions by 52%[1] since 2008/09, beating two self-set targets, and helped reduce emissions Countywide by 54% from 1990 levels.

Politicians, senior managers and staff at all levels are united in tackling climate change for the benefit of residents. We want to be held accountable on our plan and work with communities and partners to meet targets faster. We have also agreed innovative internal changes to ensure that tackling the climate emergency is firmly embedded within the culture and practices of our organisation.

We are delivering innovative projects including;  mine-water heating projects, decarbonising multifunctional council depots, the biggest tree planting initiative seen in a generation,  significant investment in EV charging infrastructure in rural and urban areas, the final phase of our LED street lighting replacement project, Solar PV projects and other renewable technologies and many more. The Council is committed to spending significantly to see all such projects to fruition.

We are working to engage across all sectors, including a comprehensive package for all our schools, an SME programme, housing projects for privately owned, private rented and social housing, community initiatives, a joint programme with Durham University and a broad partnership agenda.  

[1] www.durham.gov.uk/article/4487