What is climate change?

    Scientists have proven that greenhouse gases, such as carbon, produced by human activity, like burning fuel, are changing our climate. The world is heating up, and the last decade was the hottest on record. In the UK, temperatures in summer 2022 were higher than 40 degrees in many places which adversely affects people’s health, disrupts transport and causes wildfires.

    We are also experiencing more frequent and heavy floods with our region being particularly badly affected. What was once described as ‘a one-in-one-hundred-years flood’ is now happening every few years causing misery and loss of income for people and businesses.

    The United Nations Environment Programme has more information on the science of climate change.

    Why has the Combined Authority declared a climate emergency?

    The Combined Authority and its partners declared a climate emergency in 2019. By declaring a climate emergency, the Combined Authority has made a commitment to take action on the causes and impacts of climate change – and to be held accountable.

    What does net zero mean?

    Our ambition is to create a net zero West Yorkshire by 2038 at the latest. This means that the amount of carbon and other emissions put into the atmosphere will be equal to those being taken away. In other words, they will cancel each other out. This is also known as carbon neutral.

    How will we achieve net zero?

    The West Yorkshire Climate and Environment Plan sets out in detail the steps we need to take as a region to reduce our emissions and make the most of the opportunities these changes will present. It includes plans to increase the use of renewable energy, power our public transport by electricity and encourage people to use alternatives to their cars such as walking or cycling.

    What is the Government doing about climate change?

    The UK has a strong record on taking climate change seriously. It was the first country in the world to create a legally binding national commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions – The Climate Change Act of 2008. This states that the UK will achieve net zero by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change advises the government on emissions targets and reports to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

    What can I do to help slow down climate change and help towards net zero?

    We all have a role to play in helping to reduce harmful emissions and small changes can really make a difference. The Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme offers people support and advice on how to walk and cycle more – and leave their cars at home. The Mayor of West Yorkshire has introduced simpler and cheaper bus tickets through the Mayor’s Fares to make it more affordable to use buses.

    The Energy Saving Trust offers advice on simple measures we can all take such as switching to LED lightbulbs to not only save energy but also money.

    Campaign groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have lots of information on changes you can make to your diet or your shopping habits to help reduce your impact on the environment.

    What role does private sector investment play in tackling the climate emergency?

    The Combined Authority and its partners cannot tackle the climate emergency alone. We’re determined to work in partnership, across the public, private and third sectors to turn our ambition into a future defined by hope, innovation and collaboration. 

    Across West Yorkshire there are a number of exciting, innovative investment opportunities which we have set out in our digital Net Zero Investment Prospectus. Initiatives in the multi-million-pound investment pipeline will help to radically reduce carbon emissions, improve the energy efficiency of people’s homes and businesses, and create thousands of new well-paid green jobs. It includes our plans for a region-wide mass transit system and a project to use heat from old mineshafts to heat homes and businesses.  

    What are you doing about flooding alleviation?

    Our Natural Flood Management Programme, with a budget of over £7 million, focuses on reducing the frequency and damage caused by flooding. Through this programme, we will "slow the flow" of water, create natural wetlands, attract wildlife, and maximise biodiversity. Additionally, it supports the national goal of achieving net-zero emissions by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. As regional leaders in this field, we will collaborate closely with partners to implement nine projects across the region.

    The West Yorkshire Business Sustainability Programme will invest £10 million (including £5m for property level flood resilience) to help small and medium-sized businesses measure their environmental impact and resilience and enhance their flood resilience.

    Our Flood Risk Management Infrastructure Programme consists of 23 schemes across West Yorkshire. To kick-start delivery and provide immediate protection to our communities, we are investing up to £10 million in this programme. This initial investment will significantly improve flood protection for homes and businesses across West Yorkshire.

    Why are you holding this engagement now?

    The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, and the Combined Authority are committed to tackling the climate emergency and protecting the natural environment of our region for future generations. Achieving our ambition of being net zero carbon by 2038 will require everyone to make changes to how they travel, the way they work and how they live their lives. Therefore, it’s vital that we ask people for their opinions now so we ensure the benefits that transitioning to a net zero carbon economy are felt by everyone.

    What will you do with the survey responses?

    The responses to this survey will help the Combined Authority to formulate new policies and support packages to help people and businesses as we transition to a net zero carbon economy, including an updated West Yorkshire Climate and Environment Plan.