Durham County Council has been praised for having one of the top climate change action plans in the country.
The local authority is among 13 local authorities that have the best climate change action plans for addressing food emissions, according to a new study.
The council has been named following research by Sustain, which looked into 92 local government plans and measures to tackle food-related emissions at the level needed to meet international commitments to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees and achieve net zero.
Sustain’s research found that only 13 out of the 92 local authorities which have developed climate action plans had proposals to tackle food emissions at an adequate scale.
After declaring a climate emergency in 2019, Durham County Council pledged to reduce carbon emissions from the council’s operations by 80 per cent by 2030, and to take necessary action to make County Durham carbon neutral by 2050.
To ensure this, the council developed its Climate Emergency Action Response Plan (CERP) outlining the measures it will take to meet this pledge, including actions to reduce food-related emissions.
The council has been working with organisations such as Durham Food Group and has been supported by its environment and climate change partnership stakeholder, Durham Community Action, to address carbon-producing factors such as food waste disposal, food sustainability, and agriculture.
By 2030, it aims to improve food sustainability by having significantly increased the proportion of local produce sold and grown in the county.
The CERP also aims to reduce food-related emissions by working with local farmers and landowners to promote soil conservation, regenerative farming and agro-ecology.
The plan also seeks to reduce the amount of food waste produced by the county by promoting and encouraging residents to home-compost with carbon management guidance.
Agriculture, fishing, transport, food processing and waste is responsible for 20 to 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Cllr John Clare, Durham County Council’s climate change champion, said: “Our Climate Emergency Response Plan identifies significant steps we have pledged to take to help reduce the county’s production of carbon and help tackle climate change.
“Local authorities have the opportunity to radically reduce the impact our food systems have on the climate, and this is something we have pledged to tackle in our plan. We are incredibly pleased that our plan has been acknowledged in this new research and that we are performing as one of the top UK authorities in our steps to address this global issue.”
A copy of the council’s Climate Emergency Response Plan can be found online at durham.gov.uk/climatechange.