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Vale’s Emily Smith joins other local leaders in putting net zero ambitions ahead of government targets

Just over a week before the United Nations Climate Change conference COP26, Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, has joined dozens of other local authority leaders from across the UK in signing up to UK100’s ‘Net Zero Pledge’, reaffirming the Vale’s commitment to meeting Net Zero carbon emissions at least five years earlier than UK government targets.

Cllr Smith signed up to the pledge following a motion agreed at the Vale Council meeting on 6 October.  By signing the pledge and joining UK:100, the Vale is now part of a national network that gives local government leaders greater influence and resources in tackling the climate emergency and carries out ambitious and cost-effective plans for the transition to clean energy that involve the public and business communities.

The Vale’s own climate action targets — to become carbon neutral council by 2030 and a carbon neutral district by 2045 — are already aligned with those outlined in the UK:100 Net Zero Pledge. This means the council, and district as a whole, aim to produce no more carbon emissions than the amount removed from the atmosphere.  The council has previously declared a Climate Emergency, made the Climate Emergency a key priority in its Corporate Plan and set up a Climate Emergency Advisory Committee.

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Tackling the climate emergency is a key priority for Vale of White Horse District Council. We need to work together and learn from each other if we are to find workable and effective solutions to meet our carbon neutral targets.

“Ahead of the world climate summit COP26 in Glasgow next week, joining UK:100 puts us in a much better position to share knowledge with those who face similar issues. We will be part of a wider community that works together to bring about genuine change, while helping to ensure that our own ambitions and ideas also result in meaningful action.

“Signing the Net Zero Pledge also re-affirms our commitment to becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030 and carbon neutral district by 2045, well ahead of government targets.

Christopher Hammond, Network Membership Director at UK100, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Cllr Emily Smith to UK100’s network of highly ambitious local government leaders that are committed to a Net Zero transition.

“The fundamental challenge of our time is moving towards Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions to preserve our way of life and avert climate breakdown. It’s a task that will need bold leadership, legislative clarity, shifts in behaviour and enthusiastic adoption of new technologies.

“Local Government is uniquely placed to overcome these challenges. Not only do they provide services, but they have a unique sphere of influence. Fantastic things are already happening in county, city, town and village halls across the country. Making their communities fairer, safer and greener.

“By joining UK100 and committing to bold targets, Vale of White Horse District Council has demonstrated that it is facing these challenges and playing a decisive role in tackling climate change ahead of the National Government’s target.”

Note to Editors

UK100’s Net Zero Pledge:

“We will continue to lead the UK’s response to climate change, acting sooner than the government’s goal by making substantial progress within the next decade to deliver Net Zero. We will use our experience and achievements to advocate to the UK government in order to accelerate the delivery of ambitious local climate action. With greater powers and funding, we would go further.

“We commit to do everything within our power and influence to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and work with our residents and businesses to bring our wider communities’ emissions in line with Net Zero as soon as possible.

“We pledge to understand our impact on climate change, prioritise where action needs to be taken and monitor progress towards our goals. We will reduce our emissions at source and limit the use of carbon offsets as part of the global effort to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“We are closer to the people who live and work in our communities, so we have a better understanding of their needs. This means we can collaborate with them to build consensus for the solutions we need to transition to a Net Zero society that delivers multiple benefits and is fair, just and works for everyone.”