South Yorkshire Climate Alliance call for cross-party solutions to Climate Emergency.

A guest blog by By Joan Miller from South Yorkshire Climate Alliance

Four years ago Sheffield City Council declared a Climate Emergency but since then progress to zero carbon has been far too slow. It is certainly not what the massive gathering of protesters was calling for back in 2019. 

In 2019 protesters were successful in urging the Council to declare a Climate Emergency.

So this week South Yorkshire Climate Alliance wrote to all the Councillors to remind them of the urgency of the situation and to suggest they hold cross-party meetings to see what measures they can agree on that will start to reduce emissions. Here is the letter.

Dear Councillor,

 It is now four years since Sheffield City Council formally recognised the Climate Emergency facing the world.  

In February 2019 the council declared a climate emergency, and subsequently stated its intention to work towards Sheffield becoming a zero-carbon city by 2030 – thereby playing our full part in the Paris Agreement.  The time scale was ambitious but properly reflected the urgency of the situation.  Since then, four of the eleven years between setting the target and achieving the goal have passed without any steps being taken that will genuinely make a serious dent in our city’s carbon emissions.  The positive actions that have been taken, such as energy efficiency improvements in 800 homes and the SCC fleet replacement programme are commendable, but the reality is that they are on nothing like the scale and pace required.    

The South Yorkshire Climate Alliance (SCA) has asked repeated questions at full council and committee meetings about this slow rate of progress in recent months, but none of the answers given suggest any sense of urgency.  We believe this can be turned around with sufficient political will, and are asking all Sheffield City Councillors to show this on a cross-party basis.  The Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee’s decision on 19 January to create a Task and Finish Group to accelerate the production of the decarbonisation route maps can be a means to do this – to inject the necessary urgency into both the plans and the delivery. 

We would encourage Sheffield City Council to take lessons from measures other councils have already taken.  Friends of the Earth and climate solutions charity Ashden have drawn together a set of case studies which provide exactly this type of information (  To take two housing examples: Manchester has made significant progress in training up a retrofit workforce, and Liverpool has taken measures to improve insulation in privately rented accommodation through licensing measures.  Investment in decarbonisation measures will stimulate the local economy, create jobs, reduce heating bills and need not be a significant burden on council budgets.  

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told world leaders at the opening of COP 27, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.” We urge all Sheffield City Councillors to reflect on the reality of this.  Providing clear leadership for our city is in your hands.  Give the citizens of Sheffield a vision of what we can achieve together.  The South Yorkshire Climate Alliance, and the voluntary and community sectors more widely, will be active supporters in making these changes happen – and all the more so if you create the right kind of enabling, participative infrastructure alongside it.  

Yours sincerely,

Geoff Cox, Chair

On behalf of South Yorkshire Climate Alliance

The Council has faced many years of cuts to its budget, so you may think it is understandable that little progress has been made. But Friends of the Earth and Ashden have published 51 case studies of Councils that have made good progress and not all of the measures increase costs to the Council, indeed some raise more funds which can then be invested in better public transport.

Nottingham’s workplace parking levy, introduced in October 2011, was the first of its kind in the western hemisphere. A workplace parking levy is a charge on employers who provide parking spaces. This tackles congestion by incentivising employers to reduce their parking provision, supports employees with alternative journey plans and helps fund major transport infrastructure.

In Nottingham, the charge only applies to employers who provide 11 or more parking spaces. Smaller employers are exempt, as are spaces for disabled people, NHS premises and emergency services. The current charge per parking space is £428 a year, payable by the employer. All revenue raised from Nottingham’s levy is ringfenced by law to be spent on improving local transport.

The results have been spectacular. Nottingham now has one of the UK’s strongest public transport systems. Fewer people drive, air quality has improved and so has public health. The levy contributed to a 33% fall in carbon emissions in Nottingham since 2005.

Other case studies include how Wiltshire is making homes warmer and more energy efficient, how Dundee Council is boosting renewable energy and jobs and how Wirral’s Tree Strategy will plant 210,000 trees by 2030

Please sign the petition on the SCA website. At 1 pm on Monday 20 February SCA will be outside the Town Hall before the Council meeting to make some noise – there’ll be performance art and music. Come along and let Sheffield City Council know there is a demand for change. At 2 pm we’ll present the petition to the Council. 

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