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Statement by the President of the Committee for Environment & Infrastructure

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Wednesday 26 February 2020

General Update


As this is my last update to the Assembly, and as a music lover, I was going to see how many song titles I could slip in and finish with a drum solo, but you will be happy to hear I won't be doing that.

Instead, I will limit it to the The Times They Are a-Changin'.

Words that reflect the seismic changes we are starting to see in the world. Words that have often been used by younger generations to challenge their governments to embrace the changes that are needed at a quicker pace.

This world is a-changing. And Guernsey is contemplating how to prepare for these changes. These include:

Many people wouldn't have thought ten years ago that we would see the end of coal on our fires and petrol vehicles on our roads. But it is in sight with bans on the horizon in the UK and in European countries. These changes will undoubtedly follow through to Guernsey as we are supplied by larger countries.

So, we need to adapt as an Island.

The policy letters on the Island's energy policy and climate change that the Committee will bring before the end of this term will allow the States to agree their strategy and, I hope, demonstrate their commitment to meeting these challenges.

Through the Future Guernsey Plan, the States have recognised that climate change has reached a critical point and that Guernsey must work urgently to support the climate and ecological crisis at both local and international levels.

The States will also have an opportunity to contribute positively to the global response to climate change and acknowledge their previous commitment to Kyoto targets when considering the Committee's policy letter on 'Meeting Guernsey's Energy Needs'.

There is firm scientific evidence to show that climate is changing because of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity. The bulk of emissions derive from our demand for energy. The largest contributor is carbon dioxide (CO2), emitted when fossil fuels are burnt to meet those demands.

With the world moving away from hydrocarbons, most of Guernsey's energy supplies will need to come from clean, low carbon sources and residual emissions will be offset. Energy will need to be used wisely, so as not to waste precious resources.

Conscientious use of on-island natural resources will safeguard our healthy environment and clean air, whilst protecting Guernsey's unique surroundings, biodiversity, and natural beauty. Generation of on-island renewable, clean, affordable energy is supported by implementation of the Energy Policy and will provide value and choice for everybody and will play its part in helping Guernsey to mitigate climate change.

Guernsey's energy supply will be resilient and secure, as well as sustainable to meet reasonable demands for energy. Guernsey will be aligned with global efforts to reduce emissions and development of renewable technologies.

Not only does Guernsey contribute to global climate change but, as an Island, it is already feeling the impacts of climate change.

We need to plan for the future and will not always be able to rely on the current way of doing things or our current infrastructure. We are experiencing more unpredictable and intense weather patterns - stronger storms, greater frequency of storm damage, flooding, hotter summers, and milder winters.

So, in accordance with the States resolution of June 2019, the Committee will present a climate change policy and a 'Climate Change Action Plan' in May.

The Committee will identify several potential policy options developed from studies of the baseline and forecast data relating to Guernsey's carbon emissions. A recommended policy direction will be outlined within this policy letter, with a supporting draft 'Climate Change Action Plan' which, subject to the agreement of the States of Deliberation, will be the basis of consultation with the community.

In line with the Energy Policy that will be considered by the Assembly, and with the steps being taken by other jurisdictions, the Committeewill ask the States to agree its target for carbon neutrality.

My Committee is also progressing other key workstreams.

Since the Biodiversity Strategy was adopted in 2016, the focus of its delivery has been on education and awareness, which has yielded significant benefits. However, it has also identified gaps in the delivery of the Strategy. An amendment to the 2020 Budget was agreed, providing funding for the "appropriate model and ongoing funding requirement for matters relating the Biodiversity Strategy" which will allow more effective delivery of the Strategy.

Work is under way to identify and prioritise the objectives for delivery of the Strategy for the next five years, and identify the resources required. The plan will demonstrate how its objectives support the States' policy priorities and other strategies and fulfil extant resolutions.

Whether it is the Island's schools, utility networks, roads, ports, or the provision of community healthcare, infrastructure is vital to this Island. It has considerable influence on community wellbeing and economic performance.

Whilst Guernsey's infrastructure broadly meets current requirements, the Island faces a number of long-term challenges which will impact its infrastructure needs and asset management practices.

It is proposed that a Long-Term Infrastructure Framework be developed, occupying a similar policy level as the Fiscal Policy Framework. The framework would set out the Island's highest level infrastructure policy and establish the parameters within which other, more detailed policy should operate. The framework would help the States to look ahead when making infrastructure decisions and ensure that investment is aligned and delivers the greatest value to the Island.

A Working Group has been established which includes Members of the Policy & Resources Committee and the Committee for theEnvironment & Infrastructure. This Working Group will be undertaking work in the upcoming months to support the further development of the focus area in the new term.

I hope that this, my last update to the Assembly, demonstrates that we have spent this term working to deliver the priorities of the States. It has not always been easy. Often there have appeared to be competing interests. But we have always striven to find a balanced solution. I hope you will think that we have done so successfully.

I recognise that much of our work represents only the beginning of some of those changes I mentioned earlier and, most of all, I hope that the next Assembly takes up the baton we are passing to them and ensures that, over the next four years we really do see some great things happen in Guernsey.

Finally, I should like to take the opportunity to thank the members of my Committee for their support and hard work over the past four years.

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