Climate change and sustainability

The world’s climate is changing drastically, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (external link) stating that man-made influence is the driving force behind the most recent and dramatic changes in climate.

If all emissions were stopped today, we would still see some level of warming across the globe. But that level of warming is dependent on what we do today.

Climate change has been identified as the most substantial threat to our economy, public health, resources and infrastructure that humanity has ever seen. Acting now will ensure we are safeguarding the future, enabling us to secure the health and economic benefits from a cleaner environment, a green circular economy, healthier and more active lifestyles and decreased pressure on health and care systems.

What are we doing?

Wigan Council declared a Climate Emergency (external link) on 17th July 2019 in a bid to acknowledge the urgency surrounding this complex and vital issue. We will display strong leadership and work collaboratively with communities, partners and organisations to ensure our Council reaches the target of net zero carbon (external link) by 2038, with a strong influence to reduce the borough’s emissions.

Our Outline Climate Change Strategy was adopted by Cabinet in October 2020. The plan sets out Wigan Council’s ambition and a road map as to how we will tackle these challenges together, ensuring we take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge from early action on the climate emergency.

As a council we have already undertaken a number of innovative and bold initiatives that are aimed at reducing our impact on the climate and reducing our borough’s carbon emissions. We also recognise that limiting the harmful effects of climate change cannot be achieved by a single organisation and the effort requires changes to how we all live and work.

Every resident has a role to play in securing a climate resilient future.

What's the impact of climate change?

Data from the Met Office UK Climate Projections 18 (UKCP18) (external link) outlines how all the top 10 warmest years on record have been since 1990, and average rainfall has increased, meaning on average northern England is around 11% wetter today than between 1961-1990.

Significant impacts from climate change are likely to include:

  • Warmer, wetter winters and more intense rainfall throughout the year resulting in higher risks of fluvial and surface water flooding
  • Hotter, drier summers that will begin to impact the quantity and quality of UK produced food, as well as water availability, damage to buildings and infrastructure and an increase in heat related illnesses
  • Less frequent but also less predictable extreme weather events such as cold periods, storm events and droughts
  • Large-scale biodiversity and ecosystem loss that is already taking place across the world. We must not forget that we live in both a climate and an ecological emergency.

Our climate change framework

The Outline Climate Change Strategy is one of several ambitious plans for our borough, planning the urgent action required to meet our important priorities. At the heart of our strategic vision sits our corporate strategy.

The Deal 2030 provides a unifying strategy for the whole of the borough to make it the best possible place to live and work over the coming decade. It was created after Wigan Council undertook its biggest ever consultation called ‘The Big Listening Project’, which visited 83 locations across the borough, spoke to over 6,000 people directly and collated 10,000 ideas.

It was identified by our residents, community groups and young people that the state of the environment was a key issue and presented a major concern. Common issues raised included:

  • Air quality
  • Recycling and single use plastics
  • Effects of climate change
  • Our natural environment and its biodiversity.

As a member of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Wigan Council have also utilised the same target for climate neutrality by 2038 or sooner. The strategy considers many measures outlined within the Greater Manchester 5 Year Environment Plan (external link), alongside national framework including the UK Climate Change Act 2008 (external link).

Climate action themes

Our strategy introduced six climate action themes which represent areas of action that will focus the Council’s work internally and across the borough. The themes also crosscut other priorities and strategies therefore providing a better environment, local economy and opportunities for our residents whilst ensuring communities adapt to the worst impacts of climate change.

Our strategy outlined that each climate action theme would have a dedicated action plan, defining delivery over a 5-year period. The first action plans will see delivery from 2021-2026 and the plans will be reviewed yearly and refreshed every 5 years to 2038 and beyond. The action plans are being developed throughout 2021.

Take a look at the following action plans that have already been adopted by Cabinet or the timescales for release of plans yet to be adopted:

Annual greenhouse gas reporting

We are currently collaborating with a specialist consultant to provide an accurate picture of greenhouse gas reporting for the Council operations and the Borough.

From 2021, the Council will monitor borough level emissions through the use of several datasets:

The Council as an organisation will report annually on three ‘Scopes’ of emissions, using the widely-used international accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol (external link). The Scopes include:

  • Scope 1 - covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources e.g. petrol, diesel or natural gas
  • Scope 2 - covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company or organisation
  • Scope 3 - includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company or organisation’s value and supply chains, e.g. purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, investments, leased assets etc.

© Wigan Council