An independent advisory group has been launched to support ambitious climate action in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission brings together a team of climate leaders from across public, private and third sectors in what is the largest regional commission of its kind in the UK.
Andy Gouldson, Professor of Environmental Policy at University of Leeds' Faculty of Environment, is director of the new commission and will oversee its work.
Chaired by Liz Barber, CEO of Yorkshire Water, the commission aims to help the region reduce its carbon emissions as quickly as possible and ensure that people in Yorkshire are prepared to cope with the growing impacts of climate change, such as heatwaves, flooding and sea level rise.
“Climate commissions are vital in helping us to tackle the climate crisis.”
Climate commissions are partnerships bringing together people from the public, private and third sectors to work collaboratively with local authorities to help drive climate action.
Professor Gouldson said: “Climate commissions are vital in helping us to tackle the climate crisis through collective action across sectors and in communities.
“This is the largest UK commission to date, and we are hopeful that it can be the most impactful by improving people’s lives throughout Yorkshire and Humber and ensuring a liveable future for us all.”
The commission hosted an online launch event on 17 March. Prominent speakers included Lord Deben, Chair of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, and Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency.
Speaking ahead of the event, Emma Howard Boyd said: “The Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s approach recognises the importance of both reducing emissions and helping people prepare for climate shocks.
“By 2050, there will be 59% more winter rainfall and summer temperatures are set to be up to 7.4 degrees hotter. Preparing infrastructure and enhancing nature to deal with these changes will bring jobs to communities throughout the county. At COP26, the work of this commission could serve as an example of what green recovery looks like.”
Liz Barber, commission Chair, said: “We have much to do and will need to work quickly to ensure that Yorkshire has a well developed and coordinated action plan to respond to the changes in our climate which are having such a dramatic effect.
“It is however not just about speed, it is really important that we work in an inclusive way to ensure that we engage a real cross section of Yorkshire and the Humber and bring people along with us. Working alongside the climate leaders on the commission, our work panels will enable us to involve a huge range of people with different perspectives and opinions.”
The commission is made up of a Chair, four Vice-Chairs, a Director, and 27 Commissioners, from a wide range of sectors.
The work of the commission will be based on the principles of inclusivity and a ‘just transition’ to help to ensure that no-one and no-where is left behind as Yorkshire and the Humber switches to a net-zero economy. It will also ensure that climate actions are sustainable and bring benefits to nature and local wildlife.
The creation of this new body has the support of the Yorkshire and Humber Leaders Board and the 22 councils across Yorkshire and the Humber. Other key partners include the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Northern Powergrid, Northern Gas Networks, the Trades Union Congress, Yorkshire Universities and the University of Leeds.
The commission has been formed as part of the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN), an ESRC-funded research network that builds upon the model of the Leeds Climate Commission, which launched in 2017. Since 2019, PCAN has supported the development of climate commissions around the UK, including in Edinburgh, Belfast, Surrey, Essex, Croydon, Lincoln, Doncaster, and evolving commissions in York and Kirklees.