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The first Leeds Climate Forum was held on 10 October 2017. Around 60 people attended the event, which was designed to collect responses to a presentation by Commission Chair, Prof Andy Gouldson, on the updated Mini Stern for Leeds, as well as to explore other low-carbon options not currently in the report that could be included.

The workshop-style evening was used to capture information about existing activity and initiatives across Leeds, as well as to examine four key areas with the potential to reduce carbon emissions: commercial; transport; behaviours, and domestic.

 

Commercial

The most common suggestions for measures for businesses were:

  • low energy lighting;
  • engage customers and encourage environmental-friendly consumption;
  • reduce the use of single-use plastics.

Challenges

The following challenges were identified:

  • who takes responsibility?
  • what happens when measures aren’t directly cost-effective and there is an absence of policies?
  • are public-relations motivations enough to overcome instead?

Transport

The most common suggestions for measures for transport were:

  • more cycling and public transport;
  • increase working from home

Challenges

The following challenges were identified:

  • public transport is dirty, late, and has poor connections to many residential areas;
  • cycling feels very unsafe in Leeds;
  • working from home has social acceptability issues and presents physical health dangers (i.e. obesity)

Behaviour

The most common suggestions for measures around behaviour were:

  • reducing food waste (most popular);
  • changes to diets – like less meat, more local food;
  • more cycling

Challenges

The following challenges were identified:

  • very poor cycling lanes;
  • society fixated with meat;
  • food waste collections are rare (but should we not be eliminating waste, rather than utilising it?)

Domestic

The most common suggestions for measures around domestic activities were:

  • more efficient appliances and insulation (most common suggestion);
  • Better financing schemes (city bonds for investment financing?)

Challenges

The following challenges were identified:

  • what can we do about rented accommodation?
  • can we influence landlords as a city via policy, etc?

The Big Six (challenges and solutions to six big questions) 

 

1. What to do about working in buildings we don’t own? 

a. ‘Good landlord’ mark for commercial buildings?

b. Give EPC ratings more ‘weight’

 

2. Transport and increasing cycling

a. Safer bikes lanes and securer storage?

b. ‘Leeds oyster card’ and rebates for companies that encourage green-commuting?

 

3. Working from home and working less?

a. Emphasis the ‘time rich’ nature of homeworking

b. Develop reliable fast broadband

 

4. Difficult to reach – i.e. to insulate, retrofit, etc. – buildings

a. Green bonds for financing cost-ineffective measures?

b. Education regarding long-term benefits to overcome ‘future discounting’?

 

5. Private rented buildings

a. Accreditation schemes for energy via, say, Unipol

b. Educational schemes aimed at tenants – where does your waste go, what influences your bills most significantly?

 

6. Sustainable food

a. More local food waste and less meat 

b. Encourage supermarkets to get rid of buy-1-get-1 free offers and other pro-food waste pressures