The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report
1.1 This report outlines the work plan for the Working Group on the Climate Crisis for this forthcoming financial year 2021/22, for discussion and agreement. As a non-decision making group of Elected Members, this work plan is presented to the SP and R Committee for approval.
The Committee is asked to agree the priorities recommended by the Working Group within this work plan.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 Resilience and Sustainability is a core priority in Belfast City Council’s Corporate Plan and therefore the primary focus of the Working Group’s work plan for 2021/22 is to ensure progress in the achievement of the objectives set out.
3.2 In the forthcoming financial year, the Working Group will prioritise the following:
1. Overseeing the development of a draft Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Plan for Belfast City Council, for SP&R approval by end of December;
2. Working with the Resilience and Sustainability Board to ensure Belfast City Council Priorities in the Belfast Climate Plan are progressed- this will include taking advice from the Belfast Climate Commission as appropriate;
3. Ensuring that Belfast City Council contributes to progress on climate adaptation and mitigation at a regional level, e.g. through the DAERA Green Growth Task Force; and
4. Ensuring that Belfast City Council plays its part in contributing to the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow in 2021.
Further detail on each of these is provided below.
Belfast City Council Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Plan
3.3 The working group previously agreed that the BCC Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Plan would be developed by June 2021 for approval by SP&R. To date, work is mostly on track, and we have tried to ensure that Covid-19 lockdown has not reduced momentum, as much as possible. The plan will be supported by three separate studies:
- A Climate Adaptation Plan, being developed by Climate NI for BCC. Work is ongoing, and on track, and a detailed report will be brought to the All Party Working Group in February to ensure progress continues.
- A Sustainability Audit, being developed by KPMG for BCC. Work is ongoing and on track, and a detailed report will be brought to All Party Working Group in March, to ensure progress continues. Working Group members have asked that the review specifically ensure improvements in integration across Council on the issue of sustainability, e.g. more holistic approach to the circular economy and inclusive growth, and considers governance improvements to ensure our approach to sustainability is as effective as possible,
- An Energy Review. This work is to be commissioned, and may be delayed due to recruitment of new Climate Commissioner. A further update on progress will be made available as soon as possible.
3.4 It is intended that work on delivery of the Climate Adaptation Plan and implementation of the findings of the Sustainability Review will commence in advance of the summer, to ensure we are ahead of schedule, and therefore any delays to the Energy Review will be mitigated somewhat. That will enable us to meet most of the original timetable of June 2021 for the BCC Plan, and any amendments due to the delayed Energy Review will be brought to this committee in the autumn, well in advance of the end of year.
3.5 Members are aware that the Resilience Assessment and Climate Plan were launched in December 2020, and the city-wide Resilience Board is taking forward delivery of the 30 programmes contained in the document. BCC are responsible for leading several of the programmes (e.g. coordination of One Million Trees), and contributing to delivery of others (e.g. Architects for Change programme). For this reason, the All Party Working Group will receive regular reports from officers, to outline progress (1) with BCC programmes (2) with the wider plan. It may also be useful to have a joint meeting with the co-chairs of the board from time to time to discuss progress.
3.6 A number of structures have been set up at Executive level to coordinate action on (1) climate adaptation (2) climate mitigation (3) green growth. The Resilience Team at BCC work closely with colleagues in various departments to ensure we are contributing to policy and strategy at a regional level. The Working Group will receive regular updates – as a Standing Item- on policy and strategy being developed at a regional level to ensure BCC makes a full contribution.
3.7 At present, Council officers are preparing a response to DAERA’s Discussion Document on a Northern Ireland Climate Change Bill. Due to the limited timeframe for consultation an officer response will be submitted on this occasion. The officer response will be brought to the Working Group in March to be noted and to SP&R Committee in April.
3.8 COP 26 - the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow is a significant moment for cities who are committed to action to tackle climate change. It represents an opportunity to press for government action in this area, to fund areas of priority and to highlight the work taking place in Belfast, to a global audience. However, it is also an opportunity to offer a platform to young people to set out their aspirations for action. In the coming months, in partnership with the Belfast Climate Commission, we will use our engagement platform ‘Your Say Belfast’ to provide an opportunity for young people in Belfast to make a strong ask of global decision makers in the run up to COP 26. An update on this work, and other work ongoing as part of our existing networks, to influence and contribute to COP 26 will be brought to each meeting of the Working Group. Although the importance of youth and their aspirations for the future of the city are important, we also recognise the importance of engagement with older people and will coordinate a conversation through the G6 group.
Financial and Resource Implications
3.9 None at present, however future reports will set out emerging financial and resource implications of the above workplan.
Equality or Good Relations Implications/Rural Needs Assessment
3.10 None at present.”
The Committee adopted the recommendation.