10 principles of the climate charter
The ten principles of climate and nature action in Rotherham:
1. Create and deliver a Climate Change Action Plan to achieve net-zero by 2040
This part of the Charter is about taking action as soon as possible. The climate emergency is real, it’s happening and we need to act now.
The content of your action plan will vary depending on how far along your organisation is on its sustainability journey. It will also depend on your type of organisation and what sort of activities your organisation carries out.
Where do carbon emissions come from?
Carbon emissions result from any activity where fossil fuels are burned. Take a look at the below areas that as an organisation you may have influence over:
Buildings and energy use: Organisations generally need a base of operations to function and to run these buildings a large amount of energy is expended to keep them warm, light and running. To capture the carbon footprint from energy use gas and electricity bills will need to be reviewed and the carbon impact of this usage can be changed into carbo n emissions using government conversion factors. This might be more complicated if you are not responsible for paying for utilities e.g., if you rent or share a space to work out of.
Transportation: A large portion of Rotherham’s emissions come from transport. This includes car and public transport emissions such as bus, tram or train. Look at how your organisation travels and look for opportunities to decarbonise. For example, can some journeys be substituted with active forms of travel such as walking or cycling or removed altogether through virtual meetings and collaborative working platforms?
Food: The food industry including agriculture and the food we consume produce tonnes of emissions annually. Beef, lamb and dairy are known to be particularly high emitters. If your business involves food production can you reduce emissions associated with the food you produce, by serving less meat and dairy or help stimulate demand for climate friendly meals by providing tasty meat free alternatives or shopping locally where feasible.
Waste: How much does your organisation waste in a year? Tackling climate change will mean thinking about how you use products and how you can prevent waste in the first instance. See principle 4 for more information. Also, how is the waste processed at the end of its life and can a more sustainable option be found?
Training: Understanding leads to quicker and more effective change, better use of utilities and a reduction in scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions caused by an organisations actions, such as through purchasing goods and services). Consider upskilling yourself or your team through one of the many local courses available..
Links to climate accounting related websites
Local training courses:
The Council is running several free training courses for SMEs or voluntary organisations throughout 23/24 please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and to sign up.
2. Plan for the impacts of climate change
Rotherham has already felt the impacts of climate change in the past and it is likely that we will continue to do so irrespective of climate action taken now. The severity and frequency will be determined by our action now, which is why it is important for everyone to take immediate action whilst planning to protect their staff and organisations for the future. This is done by assessing the risk of climate change to your operations, service, staff and supply chains and by looking for opportunities to adapt. What is the flood risk of your buildings, what happened in recent periods of extreme heat and drought and how could this impact services if prolonged?
Consider also whether nature based solutions might provide some of the solutions to the impacts of climate change, could sustainable drainage systems be used to boost wildlife and improve flood risk?
3. Act as leaders throughout Rotherham in relation to climate and nature crises
This principle works on the basis that action leads to more action. There are a number of ways an organisation can act as a leader and this can vary dependent on the type of organisation signing the charter. For example, leading the way in terms reducing your own emissions, or by thinking of innovative ways to reduce carbon in your industry, collaborating with other organisations or sharing your actions on social media to encourage others to do the same. Being an advocate for climate and nature action is important and demonstrates your commitment to the cause.
4. Consider the waste hierarchy: refuse, reduce, re-use, repurpose and recycle
The 6 R’s:
Refuse – do you need to use the material in the first place, especially if it’s going to end up in the bin at a later date. This may be suitable where new processes lend themselves to making efficiencies and allow for the removal of unnecessary materials. This prevents the emissions and environmental damage associated with supply chains for their creation.
Reduce – do you need to use as much? Can you reduce the amount of plastics included in packaging whilst a more sustainable alternative is found?
Reuse – can you use things again in its current form?
Repurpose – can you use things again for a different purpose but without making substantial changes to the product. E.g., upcycling furniture, using old clothing as rags or pots to contain other items than originally intended.
Recycle – recycling generally uses more energy through processing to create a similar product again. For example, a glass bottle is made into a glass bottle, the contents used, put into the recycling where it is smashed, re-processed and reformed – all of which expends energy in its creation. This is why this option is at the bottom of the hierarchy and should be used as a second to last resort.
Recover - this option could include composting or energy recovery from waste e.g., incineration but will largely be dependent on your waste contractor. This option to be used if all other options are not suitable for the type of waste considered.
Avoid landfilling where possible.
A number of the above options can lead to money savings too, especially where unnecessary materials are eliminated entirely.
Links to useful information:
5. Collaborate with partners, share our knowledge and promote work that is taking place
Together we can make a big difference. Working with partners and our supply chain is key to creating a cleaner, greener future for Rotherham and its residents.
There may be opportunities within the wider group of signees to take joint action on climate and nature. This might include tackling supply chain issues, sharing procurement power, lobbying government for action or funding or by working on localised community projects. The charter provides opportunities for sharing best practice amongst organisations, working towards solving problems together and sharing our actions on social media and through our websites.
6. Work towards the removal of single-use plastics from our operations
Single-use plastics are often unnecessary and cause environmental damage. They are also usually made out of fossil fuels and are energy intensive (and therefore produce carbon emissions) to make. Whilst it is recognised that it won’t always be possible to completely remove single use plastics such as when used for PPE, or hygiene purposes, this commitment asks that reductions are made where possible and opportunities to replace with alternatives are considered on a case by case basis. Ideas of actions could include providing bottle refill stations or free water bottle refills in cafes or swapping to compostable cutlery in food outlets.
7. Protect and enhance nature in our care
If you own land and have an opportunity to enhance nature on site, there are a number of resources available to help you do this. Examples include creating wildflower meadows, putting up bird and bat boxes, and tree planting but also providing opportunities to link green spaces in your local area and improve the habitats local to you. If you don’t have your own land, and have little or no influence on any wild spaces you could volunteer your time, funds or efforts towards a local nature conservation project in your area. Adopting sustainable land and water management practices which encourage wildlife in places which were previously urban jungle. You could also avoid using materials known to cause environmental damage such as palm oil, pesticides and herbicides and peat containing compost. Assess your supply chain to identify opportunities for responsible sourcing.
Getting out into nature also has positive benefits to employee’s mental health, so reconnecting with and protecting our environment and sharing your actions on social media will also have positive benefits.
8. Be transparent: set targets and report on them
This principle is partly about sharing good practice but also about setting commitments and acting on them. Whilst there is no set reporting structure expected to meet this commitment it would be helpful if the targets were based on your carbon footprint and could include both qualitative and quantitative targets. For example, your overarching target might be to reach net zero by 2040 but you will do this by installing solar panels and swapping your fleet to EVs for example.
The Council can support businesses to calculate their carbon footprint and set realistic targets – please contact email@example.com for more information.
It is likely that there may be funding or technological gaps in some industries or organisations – understanding these up front is a big part of the journey and allows us to work on these challenges together.
Signees are encouraged to share their targets and progress with the Council so that the impact of your hard work can be shared – either anonymously or otherwise. This will also help us calculate the overall impact of the combined climate action of the charter.
9. Support our local supply chains and encourage green regional growth
Supporting local supply chains can mean different things to different organisations but it usually refers to purchasing goods and serviced from locally owned businesses to support a local economy. From a climate change perspective this means reducing emissions from transport and encouraging sustainable local growth. However, it is noted that Rotherham may not provide all the local materials needed for your organisation so sourcing regionally or wider afield might be necessary. Cost will also factor into these considerations but being open to sourcing locally and actively looking for local options is the first step.
Working together there may be opportunities to identify and plug gaps in sourcing or find funding to make the local option more sustainable.
10. Encourage others in Rotherham to reduce their impact on the environment
This can be done in a way which fits with your organisations ethos. Leading by example or very simply by having conversations about climate and nature emergencies is one way this can be achieved. Other options include, sharing knowledge and resources, calling out greenwashing or using social media platforms or even by always sharing the most sustainable option from your portfolio of products or services.
Bigger impacts can be made by collaborating or joining community groups to encourage local sustainable change.
You can also encourage your workforce to make green choices, such as through your internal policies, sharing nature recovery or climate guidance, by celebrating positive change or by signing up to specific workplace schemes e.g., cycle to work schemes.
Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.