I asked Mark Chivas, director and co-founder of Zero-Carbon Dorset, co-author of the highly regarded 'Dorset 2030' report and one of the keynote speakers at the 'Shaftesbury 2030: Choosing Our Future' symposium at Shaftesbury School last week, for his response to Dorset Council's latest progress report on its actions to counter the climate change emergency.
The council's report - Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy (CEES) and action plan - was published on 19 May, the day after the school meeting, and Mark has attacked it as, in essence, offering too little too late by sticking to its zero carbon dates of 2040 and 2050.
Dorset Council claims its latest report 'has revealed how well Dorset Council is performing in its efforts to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.'
But Mark says Dorset Council is failing to lead and failing to engage with those people and organisations in the county who are already enacting positive changes. Here's what he said (references are at the end): 'While it is interesting to note the initiatives highlighted in Dorset Council’s CEES progress review, there is little in here which changes the opinion we have already set out in Dorset 20301. 'The main developments in the intervening months have been further significant warnings from the IPCC2 and the Met Office3 about the need to take urgent, rapid action to address the climate crisis. 'While we acknowledge the limitations of the Council’s finances and sphere of influence they are uniquely placed to take the lead on galvanising action across Dorset society to address this issue. 'There is nothing in this progress report which recognises this and virtually all of the initiatives are woefully short of what’s required. 'This is perhaps best illustrated by the reference to the “130 homes” supported with energy efficiency and improvement measures when the data we analysed indicated more than quarter of a million houses across Dorset and BCP will require some degree of retrofitting. 'Across the county individuals, organisations and businesses are leading by example, something that could be harnessed by the Council to help enhance and deliver their plan if they choose to treat this as the emergency they have actually declared.'
_____________ • Dorset Council declared a climate and ecological emergency in May 2019 and their subsequent Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy (CEES) and action plan was adopted by Full Council last July (2021), after what it claimed was 'extensive development and consultation', with an agreement to report progress twice a year. The CEES is a long-term strategy which sets out 41 objectives under nine topic headings . It sets carbon targets and identifies key areas where the council can both reduce its own carbon footprint and support the whole of Dorset to become carbon neutral.
Richard Thomas, author and journalist