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States agree plans to combat climate change

States agree plans to combat climate change

Thursday 20 August 2020

States agree plans to combat climate change


Deputies have approved plans to tackle climate change, including putting a stop to the sale and importation of petrol and diesel vehicles in the next 15 years and making carbon neutrality a reality by 2050.

The Climate Change Policy & Action Plan, put forward by Environment & Infrastructure, was agreed in full by States Members after hours of debate at yesterday's meeting.

It's likely to require islanders to make significant changes to their lifestyles over the coming years, including new ways of travel and possibly more home working.

"The market is changing," said E&I President, Barry Brehaut, while noting how electric vehicles have risen in popularity over the past five years. "The last garage to be built in Guernsey doesn't have petrol pumps - the market is moving and businesses are adapting to that."

In line with the new proposals, Guernsey will phase out of the sale and importation of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035, while ensuring only the latest Euro standard vehicles can be brought to the island, with certain permitted exceptions.

shutterstock petrol pump

Pictured: The selling and importation of petrol and diesel cars will be phased out by 2035.

This plan goes hand-in-hand with the agreed legal target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - although we could see that target come to fruition sooner than expected.

"[The target of] 2050 is a bit of a backstop," explained member of E&I, Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez. "It's completely aligned with international standards. It doesn't commit to only doing it by 2050 and one of the reasons we're very keen to ensure there's a lot of community engagement is because there's multiple ways you can achieve the target, but it will depend on where the community sits.

"The date we've set into legislation is not the same as the date that we might achieve it. If the community suggest that target could be brought forward, we could achieve it earlier and I certainly hope that would be the case."

Before the changes come into place, the committee will set up an independent advisory board as well as a focus group of Guernsey residents to figure how best the island can make the transition.

"One of the massive problems is that we just don't have adequate levels of expertise within the States," Deputy de Sausmarez continued. "When it comes to things like championing environmental causes, really it comes down to those happy amateurs to be jumping up and down. Frankly, we need to make it easier for them. We shouldn't be relying on individual goodwill."

business meeting manager

Pictured: An independent advisory board will be appointed.

"That is why we're advocating setting up an advisory body. We do need more expertise and a more coordinated approach, so we do have a more uniformly combust framework.

"It's quite easy to agree on what we want to achieve, but how we achieve it could be done in so many different ways. It's really important we understand where the enthusiasm for certain measures might be and where the red lines are. It's so important we tailor our response to what works in the Guernsey context."

The proposals were mostly met with support by States Members during debate, with Deputy Heidi Soulsby stating that ignoring climate change would only lead to "greater inequality" and Deputy Jennifer Merrett encouraging everyone to "take responsibility for our own actions and work towards the common goal."

Deputy Charles Parkinson was another to support the plans, adding: "We have good credentials for advertising ourselves as the green island. We have a recycling rate of 70%, but we have to make a substantial effort to decarbonise our economy. Two thirds of all our carbon emissions come from two areas - home heating and road transport. The opportunity is there right now to decarbonise two thirds of our emissions."

However, some weren't quite as supportive with Deputy David de Lisle saying the policy "lacks ambition". At the opposite end of the scale was Deputy Barry Paint, who proclaimed himself an "extreme doubter".

Deputy Barry Paint

Pictured: Deputy Barry Paint said he was an "extreme doubter" of climate change.

"I don't believe half of what I hear," he told the States Assembly. "I have not got a lot of faith in this global warming. I think it's being pushed onto the people and keeping them in fear."

Despite that though, all 19 propositions in the Mitigating Climate Change policy letter were approved.

The policy letter and action plan can be read in full HERE.

Read more...

Climate change policy set to be debated this week

Guernsey plans 'urgent action' on climate change

Pictured top: President of E&I, Deputy Barry Brehaut.

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