Decision details

North Yorkshire Climate Change Strategy

Decision Maker: Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


To request adoption of the North Yorkshire Council Climate Change Strategy, following consultation and to consider the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Action Commission Pledge.


Considered – A report of the Corporate Director for Environment seeking adoption of the North Yorkshire Council Climate Change Strategy and consideration of the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Action Pledge for signature.


Councillor Greg White introduced the report confirming a few minor amendments had been made to the draft Strategy since it was last considered by the Executive, as highlighted in the report.


It was noted that a public submission had been received from Mr Tim Larner - Vice Chair of Zero Carbon Harrogate, who was in attendance at the meeting to present his submission as follows:


In February 2023 you published your draft Climate Change Strategy for consultation.  Whilst we welcomed the strategic approach, but we felt the strategy was weak and we identified key actions in our consultation response to strengthen it.  You describe the adoption of the strategy today as “a defining moment” and we agree.


However, the strategy before you today, has stepped back from rather than stepping up to an ever-increasing challenge.  In February, the draft strategy said (page 18) “we have also set a target for the North Yorkshire Council to be net zero in its operational emissions by 2030”.  We would urge you to reconsider the final green box of the strategy (Appendix A) in the context of this earlier commitment “As a Council we will: …  seek to become operationally net zero by 2030” (dot point 1).  A “target” implies commitment backed up by delivery; “seek” implies only effort without any great expectation of success.  We urge you to retain the previous wording, using this opportunity to reconfirm your commitment to the action needed to achieve it. 


Unfortunately, one of the first actions in the strategy – the commitment to Departmental and Service action plans - has slipped by three months to March 2024 (dot point 5, same text box).  This slippage is important, because it fails to meet the timescale required to influence the 2024-25 budget cycle, leading to financially dependent action being delayed until 2025-26.  But the climate emergency is already here and cannot be delayed – we’ve just experienced the hottest UK June on record by 0.9oC, following on from the hottest year in 2022.


We would also urge you to reconsider your stance on Scope 3 emissions (dot point 4, same text box).  Support and encouragement alone will not change the behaviour of suppliers.  Suppliers should be required by goods and services specifications to deliver lower carbon solutions.  Carbon emissions should be incorporated into the evaluation frameworks for tender comparison.  We need to use our purchasing power to drive a low-carbon future.


In formal submissions to, and in informal conversations with, you we have argued for the widespread use of independently verified Carbon Literacy Training.  In our view, this possesses the potential to create a culture-changing approach to carbon reduction in North Yorkshire, but you commit only to “raise awareness” (dot point 5, same text box).


We would urge you to make modest but significant changes to the draft before you today.  Ambition means nothing without a full commitment to meaningful action.

Annex to statement:   Four suggested changes to the strategy - all references to final page of the strategy document (Appendix A of the report) with consequential changes to other parts of the text where necessary as follows:

·         Replace: “we will seek to become operationally net zero by 2030” by “we commit to the actions necessary to achieve our target of becoming operationally net zero by 2030”.

·         Supplement: “we will create property and fleet decarbonisation plans and a staff travel policy to reduce mileage by March 2024” with “ensuring that the drafts of these plans is reflected in 2024-25 budgets”.

·         Supplement: “we will encourage our suppliers to take climate responsible actions”, with “through the use of stretching goods and service specifications, inviting bidders to minimise their carbon emissions”.

·         Supplement: “we will raise awareness of the causes and impacts of climate change and climate responsible actions required with all Officers and Members” with “through widespread training using independently verified Climate Literacy Training.”


Councillor Greg White thanked Mr Larner for his submission on behalf of Zero Carbon Harrogate and confirmed the Authority was extremely grateful for the activities of the many community based environmental groups in North Yorkshire.  


In response he acknowledged that 40+ environmental groups had helped to shape the Strategy in the development phase and had provided very positive and helpful comments on the draft version.


He acknowledged the Authority had a leading role to play in tackling the causes and impacts of climate change as set out in the Strategy, but could not do this alone. This had been articulated in the Strategy which set out how the Authority would enable everyone to take climate responsible actions by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, preparing for a changing climate and supporting nature to thrive. He noted that Community groups such as Zero Carbon Harrogate would continue to be instrumental in that.


He confirmed over 1700 responses to the draft Strategy had been received with many very positive comments from groups and organisations concerning the activities set out. He noted it was the Authority’s job was to take a balanced view of the role it would take to tackle climate change and to bring residents and businesses along with it.  Consequently, whilst the strategy might not go as far as Zero Carbon Harrogate would like, it was fully reflective of the evidence, both from the available data and from engagement with communities.


He went on to address the specific points raised by Mr Larner.  In regard to the timescale of departmental action plans he confirmed officers had proposed that the timescale for approving and adopting the final version be delayed by a few weeks in order to properly review the breadth and depth of responses to the draft Strategy. Consequently the activities proposed would also need to be moved forward by a corresponding period.   He suggested this would not impact on the Authority’s ability to achieve the desired outcomes. He also noted the Strategy referenced the existing climate action plans from the 8 predecessor authorities which were still current and being enacted, with very proactive projects across all three key pillars of the new Strategy.


In regard to Scope 3 Emissions, he confirmed the Authority needed to enable and support local businesses and its suppliers to take their own decarbonisation journey and that this was being done through many business focussed initiatives such as the Shared Prosperity Fund business support in North Yorkshire, and Circular Economy work, in partnership with local authorities across the Yorkshire and the Humber region. As outlined in the Climate Change Strategy, he suggested the Authority’s approach to procurement was also a key tool to achieve it.   He highlighted the inclusion of ‘social value’ in the tender documents which would enable the Authority to ask its suppliers to evidence how they were supporting its net zero ambitions. As an example, he drew attention to the significant carbon savings the Authority had recently achieved on its ambient food contract.


In regard to training for Members and Officers, Councillor Greg White highlighted the ongoing promotion of the Climate Change Awareness training programme available to all staff and Members. He noted this had been created with the support of a Carbon Literacy Trust delivery partner and that the module would be refreshed to reflect the new Climate Change Strategy.  He confirmed the Strategy made it clear that climate change would be embedded into ‘business as usual’ decision making across the Council and that training for any member of staff was available to support that. He noted that officers could choose to undertake specific carbon literacy training or to focus on more practical skills to support our ambitions such as Electric Vehicle Maintenance or heat pump installation.


Finally he reiterated his thanks to Zero Carbon Harrogate for their valuable contribution throughout the Strategy development process and confirmed he look forward to a close working relationship with them and our other community based environment groups as delivery progressed.


In response to a supplementary question from Mr Larner concerning the change to the wording of the Authority’s commitment, Councillor Greg White confirmed he was comfortable with the wording as written in the draft Strategy document, as the Authority was not in control of the actions of others and therefore could not 100% guarantee full delivery of the Strategy by 2030.  Whilst he confirmed the Authority’s determination to address carbon emissions in North Yorkshire, he stressed it would require a whole county effort not just a Council effort.


Councillor Gareth Dadd stated that elected Councillors had a whole range of competing responsibilities and challenges of equal priority, and residents needed to properly understand the financial costs associated with delivering the Strategy alongside other crucial services.


Councillor Simon Myers drew attention to the government funding required to deliver many of the Authority’s services and suggested that without knowing the exact contributions to be received, it was often difficult to fully assess what would be possible in terms of delivery.


Councillor Paul Haslam - Climate ChangeMember Champion, welcomed the strategy as a positive way forward.  He noted each Directorate would have an Action Plan and welcomed the planned 6-monthly reviews by Overview & Scrutiny.  He acknowledged the Authority had come a long way since 2017, but recognised it was a continuing battle requiring the ongoing petitioning of Government and the continued engagement and education of residents.


All Executive members voted in favour of the recommendations in the report, and it was


Resolved – That:

i)            The North Yorkshire Council Climate Change Strategy be approved

ii)       North Yorkshire Council sign up to the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission’s Climate Action Pledge






Report author: Jos Holmes

Publication date: 20/07/2023

Date of decision: 18/07/2023

Decided at meeting: 18/07/2023 - Executive

Effective from: 28/07/2023

Accompanying Documents: