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Climate Change policy letter and Action Plan submitted to the States for debate

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Monday 29 June 2020

The Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has submitted a Climate Change policy letter and Action Plan with the aim for it to be debated by the States in August.

The need for urgent action on climate change is widely recognised and, as a mature and responsible jurisdiction, Guernsey is alive to the pressing need to minimise its carbon emissions and reduce its environmental impact.

Not only does Guernsey contribute to global climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases but, as an island, it is already feeling the impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels in the Channel Islands are already being experienced, and volatile and violent weather patterns are increasing, leading to a greater risk of flooding, flood damage, hotter summers and milder winters. Each of the last six years have been warmer than average.

Guernsey has made relatively good progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to date, by just under 29% compared with 1990 levels. However, these reductions still fall well short of the reductions scientists say are necessary to avert dangerous levels of warming.

Therefore, the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure is asking the States to agree that the target of achieving carbon neutrality (also known as 'net zero') by 2050 at the latest, as set forward by the recently agreed 2020-2050 Energy Policy, should be written into law. The interim target to maintain progress will be to reduce emissions by 57% on 1990 levels by 2030. However, if Guernsey can deliver the aims of the Climate Change policy letter it is likely to enable Guernsey to exceed this target and reach carbon neutrality sooner.

The policy sets out how the island will begin and continue to 'avoid, reduce, replace and offset' Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in a hierarchical approach. The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, published at www.gov.gg/ghg will continue to measure emissions on an annual basis, which will be important to show how changes made by the island will have an overall impact on reducing emissions.

Another proposition is that Guernsey's policy on the importation and sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) shall be aligned with the United Kingdom to phase out the sale of ICEVs by 2035. With most of Guernsey's new vehicles already imported from the UK, this sets a clear direction for manufacturers, consumers and the motor trade, and allows for a phased approach to take place. In addition to supporting emissions reduction, aligning to the UK timetable removes the possibility of Guernsey becoming a 'graveyard' for petrol and diesel vehicles.

The reduction of motorised vehicle numbers on the roads during lockdown resulted in significant improvements to air quality. While it is hoped that we will continue to benefit from reduced pollution as Islanders maintain active travel methods and public transport use, phasing into an electric vehicle community will further improve our air quality now and for the future.

The Climate Change Action Plan captures the ongoing, existing and planned actions and areas of focus to achieve the aims of the policy; this is a "live" document and will evolve and be updated over time. This will be regularly published on www.gov.gg/climateaction for transparency and accountability.

The existing Energy Policy 2020 - 2050 and the 2020 Strategy for Nature (formerly known as the biodiversity strategy) are aligned and integrated into the Climate Change policy and Action Plan to ensure a coordinated approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Deputy Barry Brehaut, President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure said:

"Viewed through the lens of the States of Guernsey's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, this Climate Change Policy actively contributes to a sustainable economy, community and health and care recovery plan.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Guernsey has shown how it may be small, but it can be an inspiration to other jurisdictions. The Guernsey Together spirit has seen us accomplish great things. If we can apply that same spirit to our Revive & Thrive and Build Back Better initiatives, then we can ensure our island is sustainable and resilient to possible future climate change impacts for generations to come."

The Climate Change Policy and Action Plan can be read here.

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