Urgent action needed to restrict region’s carbon emissions


Carbon limits needed to contain global warming could be breached within six years in the Yorkshire and Humber region, a new report warns.

The Yorkshire and Humber Climate Action Plan calls for meaningful climate leadership from larger institutions in government and the public and private sectors to deliver “significant, tangible contributions” to help tackle the climate and ecological crisis.

Fostering shared responsibility, moving from targets and planning to action, and putting climate and nature at the heart of all areas of decision making are three of the key recommendations from the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s report, which also commits to undertake a raft of ambitious actions itself.

It also stresses the need for Yorkshire and Humber to be “climate ready” to face increasing risks from climate change, stating that not acting with the required urgency and ambition will both prolong the region’s contribution to the problem and worsen local impacts.

Delivery of the plan

Andy Gouldson, Professor of Environmental Policy at Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, is the Director of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission. He said: “As a commission, we have brought together climate leaders from all sorts of organisations and groups, and we have worked extensively with stakeholders from across the region to develop this plan.

“It’s been a mammoth undertaking, but it’s hugely important that people are involved in the process and we are very happy with the outcome. We now have to start the really hard work, which for us as a commission is to tackle a set of specific actions over the next two and a half years.

“We’re playing our part, but we need the region as a whole to step up and get behind the delivery of the plan.” 

The Climate Action Plan has been developed with the input of more than 500 people, to be presented in Leeds today at the The Yorkshire Post Climate Change Summit, which has been co-organised with the commission.

Delay not an option

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, will open the summit. She said: “The climate emergency is a global crisis but the solutions are local and that’s why the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s Action Plan is so vital.

“Many of the measures being called for in this plan are mirrored in the West Yorkshire Climate and Environment Plan which was launched last month and sets out how we will deliver a net zero carbon region by 2038 at the latest. Both plans are clear – we need urgent and collaborative action now. We cannot afford to delay.”

Included in the report’s 50 actions are calls for a fair and inclusive transition, the integration of climate and nature into the curriculum in schools, the development of jobs and skills, the promotion of green finance and investment and the inclusion of emissions from aviation and shipping in the region’s net zero target. 

While delivering a stark warning about the need to prepare for worsening impacts, it also offers hope that dealing with the connected climate and nature crises can help to transform Yorkshire and Humber into a happier, healthier, fairer and more prosperous place to live and work.

Move to a green economy

Liz Barber, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Water and Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, said: “The publication of this action plan is a significant first step for the commission in guiding the region’s response to the climate and ecological emergency.  

“Of paramount importance to this response is a commitment to achieve a just transition as we move to a green economy.

“Climate change impacts more on disadvantaged communities and it is critical that we make sure that our efforts reduce rather than exacerbate existing inequalities.” 

Support for the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s Climate Action Plan has come from the Yorkshire Leaders Board, which includes the leaders and chief executives of all of the local and combined authorities across the region. 

In a joint statement, Yorkshire Leaders Board co-Chairs Councillor Carl Les, Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, and Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton, Leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “Climate change is not a remote or distant issue.

“Many of our communities have already experienced extreme weather in recent years. In time, every corner of Yorkshire and Humber will be directly or indirectly impacted by the changing environment to some degree.

“The commission’s recommendations on how our region can adapt are therefore an extremely important contribution. 

“Going forward, we will work together to build the support from our communities, businesses and national government that will be vital to make all of these actions possible.” 

Support from Yorkshire mayors

South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis will be speaking at today’s summit on the regional relevance of the global climate agenda.

He said: “The climate emergency is the greatest challenge we face. We must urgently confront it while also tackling the long-standing inequalities holding the Northern economy back. We’ve declared a climate emergency in South Yorkshire, and have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest.

“But we must do this in a way which benefits not only just the environment, but our people too – creating good jobs, boosting our productivity, and building a future that’s happier, healthier and more prosperous for everyone.  

“This plan is a significant first step to building that future for Yorkshire and the Humber. It’s critical that we start this work now, there is no time to waste.” 

Further information

The all-day summit at the Royal Armouries in Leeds will be hosted by journalist and broadcaster Christine Talbot. Key sessions from the Yorkshire Climate Summit will be livestreamed and available to watch for free via the event website. The Summit runs from 9.15am to 4.30pm, with the Climate Action Plan being presented by Commissioners from 10.00-11.00am.  

The Climate Action Plan is now available to download from the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s website.

Picture: Adobe Stock.

For interview requests, contact Kate Lock, Communications Manager for Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, by email on K.M.Lock@leeds.ac.uk.

Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission

The Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission launched in March 2021, as part of the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN) and supported by the Yorkshire Leaders Board. 

The Commission is an independent advisory group that brings together public, private and third sector actors to support, guide and track the delivery of ambitious climate actions across the region.  

Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s aims are to advance the region’s climate leadership and to accelerate climate resilient, net-zero development through an inclusive and just transition. Read an overview here.

The Commission has received funding from the Yorkshire and Humber Leaders Board, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Northern Powergrid, Northern Gas Networks, and the University of Leeds. In-kind contributions were provided by the Trades Union Congress and Yorkshire Universities.