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Climate emergency

We are in a climate emergency.

Icon for pdf Climate in a Year transcript (PDF, 94.4kb)

Climate change poses one of the greatest threats to human life and has the potential to cause catastrophic problems for generations to come.

Immediate action is critical if we are to avoid the worst impacts of this climate emergency. It is important that we look at and address the issues in our area, to reduce our contribution to this international crisis.

In 2009 Durham County Council began investing in action against Climate Change by establishing a dedicated team to focus solely on this issue.

In 2019 Durham County Council declared a climate emergency and pledged to:

  1. Reduce carbon emissions from Durham County Council's operations by 80% from 2008/09 levels by 2030, making significant progress towards making Durham County Council and County Durham as a whole carbon neutral.
  2. Investigate what further actions are necessary to make County Durham Carbon Neutral by 2050 and pledge to achieve this.

A Climate Emergency Response Plan was presented to Council on 17 July 2019 and is available to download at County Council agenda and minutes 17 July 2019 (item 9).

A public consultation was carried out on this plan and the results have shaped our further actions, as presented below.

Climate Emergency Action Plan

To ensure that we meet our goals we have drawn up two fully costed action plans, one for the council's target and one for the countywide target.

Each plan is written in detail for the first two years and presents an outline of what will be required for the rest of the process and will be updated on an ongoing basis. An updated version of the Response Plan will be made public every two years, including two new action plans for the next two years of work toward achieving our two goals.

The Response Plan was submitted to and approved by Cabinet on 12 February 2020, and can be downloaded at Cabinet agenda and minutes 12 February 2020 (item 7).

Progress to date

Since beginning a Carbon Management Programme across the Council in 2010, we have reduced our carbon emissions by 58%. For more information on carbon emissions from the our own operations and buildings, please visit:

In addition to the Climate Emergency Response Plan, an internal document is in place which details where the responsibility for each action lies. This Carbon Management Plan describes the actions and processes that we will need to reduce our contribution to the Climate Emergency.

County Durham

The Council's emissions make up only 3% of those emitted in total by County Durham's homes, businesses, and travel activity. Everyone who lives, works, visits, or travels in Durham needs to play their part in helping to reduce these emissions. So far, County Durham's emissions have reduced by approximately 54%. For more information please visit:

What can you do?

The Climate Emergency is a global problem which everyone can help to solve. At the moment everyone in County Durham is contributing to the problem, though most of us would prefer not to. Here are some hints and tips for things that you may be able to do at home or at work to reduce your carbon footprint. Some actions may reduce your energy bills too.

This list could be very long and is by no means complete, but could act as a good starting point:

  • Reduce car use
  • Turn your heating down
    • We all need to stay warm, but turning your thermostat down just a little bit can make a big difference in the long run
    • Proper insulation is a must if it is possible for your home
  • Switch off
    • Have a look around yourself now - what can you see that has a plug or switch?
    • Turn off everything that doesn't need to be on.
    • Even small electrical items can draw power if they are left plugged in.
  • Think Global - Shop Local
    • Using small local shops is often better for the environment
    • Try your local greengrocer, butcher, or farm shop
    • Meat from local suppliers could be lower carbon than from a supermarket
    • Local food is likely to have less plastic packaging too.
  • Avoid plastic packaging
    • Excess packaging causes carbon emissions when it is produced, when it is transported, and when it is disposed of. Avoid this as much as possible.
    • Remember to take your own bags and containers to the shops.
    • Could you sign our single use plastics pledge?
  • Sharing is caring
    • If we share things, we don't need to produce as many of them
    • Could you share your car or join a car club?
    • Could you take unwanted items to a charity shop?
    • Public libraries have a wealth of resources that you can borrow.
  • Community works
Contact us
Sustainability Carbon and Climate Change
03000 265 545
Our address is:
  • 5th Floor
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ