Sheffield should go Carbon Neutral by 2030

Sheffield Star 13th Feb 2019

Dear Editor

At the Full Council meeting I presented a petition of over 400 names, collected in less than a week, calling on Sheffield to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Climate change is now an emergency. The 2018 State of the Climate report says that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the 2015-2018 making up the top four.

The UN told us last year that we only have 12 years to reduce our carbon emissions or the planet will heat beyond 1.5 degrees C. By that time my 3-year-old granddaughter will still not be able to vote, but the future of the planet may have been determined as uninhabitable.

As the world gets hotter feedback loops kick in, which are predicted to lead to ever increasing temperatures, the “hothouse earth” scenario.

Massive forest fires have been spreading in Tasmania and in California. Drought has increased, making fires more likely. The burning forests releases a massive store of carbon into the atmosphere, further adding to the greenhouse effect. The destroyed forest no longer soaks up the CO2, so even more CO2 warms the atmosphere.

In the arctic the ice reflects the sun’s rays. But warming has been melting the ice revealing the dark water. This absorbs the energy from the sunlight, warming the water and speeding ice melt.

Around the arctic the permafrost is melting releasing large amounts of methane, which is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Phil Camill described this as “unplugging the refrigerator in the far north. Everything that is preserved there is going to start to rot”.

These feedback loops mean that once climate change really gets going there will be no stopping it.

We can expect food shortages, starvation, far more extreme weather, wars over resources and massive movements of migrants around the world fleeing uninhabitable countries.

This is an emergency. We need rapid action to reduce our emissions. This won’t come from individual changes in lifestyle, we need systemic changes from Government, including local Government, to help us all do the right thing for the planet. At the heart of this must be the end of the worship of economic growth.

The Labour motion failed to set targets for urgent action. It is no use saying, “Our house is on fire, this is an emergency” but then saying, “Let’s ask a committee to report back in 6 months to see if we should call the fire brigade”. It is an emergency, so the Council should have acted like it is an emergency and called the fire brigade!Yours sincerely

Graham Wroe


Video of the petition hand in is here.
The petition is here

About the Author

Graham Wroe has been a member of Sheffield Green Party since the early 1980’s. He has stood in many elections and been involved in many campaigns, such as the campaign to shut down Sheffield’s highly polluting incinerator, the campaign to keep the bridge over Sheffield Station open to the public, the campaign to rescue one of his students from deportation and Save Norfolk Park Trees. He is now active in Extinction Rebellion Sheffield where he has campaigned to get the local press to tell the truth about climate change. Following this campaign he was offered a regular column in the Sheffield Telegraph. Views expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent any of the organisations I support.

Fitzalan Square trees destroyed

On Sunday 20th May, at 6am in the morning, Amey workmen cut down the four beautiful healthy plane trees in Fitzalan Square. They came like thieves in the night, as they were aware that they were doing this without the consent of the people of Sheffield. Yes, they had gone through the process of pretending to consult, ignoring the petition of 3189 people, ignoring the advice of the Council tree manager and attaining planning permission to “redevelop” the square. So now the city centre is totally bereft of mature trees that soak up particulates, improving our air quality, give us shade in hot weather and soak up  water to help prevent flooding when it pours. They will be replaced with new trees but I can’t find any mention in the Council documents of the species. I fear they will be smaller trees not capable of the eco services the plane trees offered, especially hosting many birds that used to cheer up our city centre.

Photo by Cuthbert Baines
Fitzalan Square in 2017

It is so sad that our Council do not value trees. It is ironic that one thing they are making room for in the Square is air quality monitoring equipment. Without the trees the air quality will be far worse.

As we await news of what happens next with the Streets Ahead contract, here is another clear example of why the Labour Council should not be trusted with looking after our environment.

Yours sincerely

Graham Wroe

Save Norfolk Park Trees


1.       The Council tree officer wrote

 “Removal of these four trees will have a significant impact on the immediate area. The city centre has the lowest percentage tree cover in Sheffield and there are relatively few large trees within the area. Visually, the trees provide a natural living feature that helps to soften the harsh lines of the existing built environment. The trees play an important role in trapping and removing pollutants from the surrounding air as well as providing dappled shade for users of the square. The canopies also help to break up wind movement that may otherwise funnel between the buildings. All four trees are well established with a significant 
potential longevity. All are considered to be in their prime. “

2.       The petition can be found here.

3.       Attached is a photo of the Square after the trees were destroyed, taken on Sunday morning by Cuthbert Baines