A year on from declaring a Climate Emergency in South Yorkshire, Mayor Dan Jarvis has put forward plans for a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s outlined proposals, including a short-term plan for £200 million in green investment over the next 18 months to accelerate the transition to net zero carbon emissions, create jobs and improve quality of life in South Yorkshire in the wake of the pandemic.
Priorities include retrofitting buildings to make homes and businesses more energy efficient, supporting green energy projects, including solar, hydrogen, and heat pumps, and natural flood prevention works, including tree-planting, which will protect communities and improve neighbourhoods and habitats for wildlife.
A £40m carbon challenge fund will encourage private sector investment in the region’s low-carbon industries. There are also plans to invest £53 million in active travel and low-traffic neighbourhoods to kickstart the building of a network of more than 1000km of cycling and walking routes across the region.
The Mayor outlined his plans in a letter to Green New Deal Sheffield, an organisation made up of climate action groups including Sheffield Climate Alliance, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
In the letter he said: “I firmly believe that the extraordinary investment now needed to support the economy in the face of COVID must help transform our economy as part of a Green New Deal, both creating jobs and tackling the enormous threat of climate change.
“Our Renewal Action Plan (RAP) shows how we want to apply that principle in South Yorkshire. Like all our work, its three guiding principles are to create a stronger, greener and fairer South Yorkshire.”
Following the letter, Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “Climate change is the biggest threat we face. We need action and investment from the Government which matches the scale and urgency of the monumental challenge before us.
“In South Yorkshire, we’re working for a greener region and a greener nation, and have ambitions to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest, ten years ahead of the Government’s own target.
“However, to accelerate our transition and deliver the radical action needed, we need the Government to match our ambition and deliver a Green New Deal for the country. The COVID economic crisis should be a moment for transformational investment to tackle our deepest underlying problems. So far, we’ve not seen that level of ambition from the government. As the climate crisis accelerates around us, this is a precious chance to change course – but I fear they are going to fall short.”
Work has already begun to create a cleaner and greener South Yorkshire following the Mayor and region’s leaders declaration of a Climate Emergency in November 2019.
Work so far includes:
- £21.6m investment in zero-carbon active travel infrastructure, with much more planned.
- £2.6m has been secured to install Electric Vehicle charging points.
- Proposals have been put forward for a £271m flood prevention plan that lays the groundwork for nature-based flood prevention.
- A South Yorkshire Hydrogen Network has been established with Arup to identify opportunities for hydrogen energy across South Yorkshire.
- The possibilities of using water from the region’s former mines to heat homes and businesses are being explored. The MCA is working with partners across the country to draft a Mine Energy White Paper.
- Environmentally friendly air source heat pumps are being installed to heat the AMP Technology Centre in Rotherham.
- A Woodland Creation Officer is working with the MCA, the Local Nature Partnership and other partners to develop a plan for tree planting across South Yorkshire.
- The Mayor has tabled an amendment to the Environment Bill requiring the government to give a legislative basis to targets for tree planting across England.
- Mayor Dan Jarvis will be an ambassador at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow 1 – 12 November 2021