WORLD leaders at the Paris climate conference should take a leaf out of Stroud District Council’s book, according to Green councillor Simon Pickering.

Stroud is now leading the way in the fight against climate change after the announcement that SDC is the first local authority in the UK to be carbon neutral.

It makes Stroud only the second place in the world to have an authority that’s entire operations save more CO2 than they use.

Chair of SDC’s Environment Committee Cllr Pickering welcomed the ‘historic’ news, saying world leaders could learn a thing or two from Stroud.

“The Council set a target date of 2030 to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral and have reached it a full fifteen years early,” he said.

“This success is the result of Stroud District Council’s history of supporting energy efficiency projects and initiatives that are beneficial not only to the Council but, more importantly, to residents and businesses across the District.”

Cllr Pickering added “Hitting Carbon reduction targets saves consumers money and stimulates the economy. It’s a no brainer. Every world leader at Cop 21 needs to learn from Stroud.”

In 2007 the Council adopted its Environmental Strategy which set out its ambition to improve the environment through a number of measures.

The implementation of the Carbon Management Plan followed in 2009 which set out the Council’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

In terms of climate change actions, the Carbon Management Plan has focused on mitigation measures which are intended to reduce emissions while other council programmes, using innovative approaches to reducing flooding, are helping the district to adapt to climate change.

The Council has made substantial improvements to the energy efficiency of the existing council houses while also building new houses to higher efficiency standards – both saving carbon and reducing tenants’ energy bills.

A wide range of measures to both reduce energy consumption and to generate electricity and heat were also rolled out by the council.

The other main contributor to reaching the Zero Carbon goal is through partnering with the Gloucestershire Warm and Well programme which gives advice and grants, along with information about other funding, for energy efficiency projects.

At the end of 2014/15 the total annual CO2 savings from these measures installed in the Stroud District have been independently calculated to be over 2468 tonnes.

“While these two components have brought us to our goal today, the council can also point to other community wide projects that would not have succeeded without Stroud District funding or support for European funds,” said Cllr Martin Whiteside, leader of the Green Party councillors.

These community projects include:

  • The S2S Project in partnership with a utility company to install 39 ground source heat pumps and other energy efficiency projects in the village of Frampton on Severn (which earned the Green Apple award)
  • The Target 2050 project supporting the building industry, businesses and local communities working to meet the UK’s target of 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2050
  • Pay As You Save (PAYS) loan programme funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change which has resulted in the installation of 84 energy efficiency measures at a value of £418,500
  • A successful bid for £1.2 from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to provide central heating for fuel poor homes in the Stroud district.

World leaders are gather in the French capital this week for the final round of negotiations at the COP21 conference to try to craft a long-term deal to limit carbon emissions.

The latest draft text recognised a key demand of more than 100 countries to limit warming to 1.5C above industrial levels, which scientists think will assure a better chance of survival for low-lying countries.