Preston’s Climate Emergency

In April 2019 Preston City Council declared a climate emergency. Over 200 other councils have done the same. Why? Because experts reckon we have about 11 years to turn climate change around if we’re to avoid meeting tipping points which will inevitably result in extreme weather changes. As the Preston Climate Emergency Motion states:

Children in Preston will be in their teens and twenties in 11 years’ time. They deserve a liveable Preston. We must act now to ensure this.

You can read the full Motion from Preston here.

Councils who are declaring climate emergencies are committing to make their activities net-zero carbon by 2030. This means any carbon emissions will have to be completely balanced out by carbon removal.

The UK as a whole has a target of net-zero carbon by 2050, but experts say this will be much too late.

The Motion is ambitious in its aims, as it needs to be, but it recognises that Preston will need significant financial resources in order to achieve these aims and this money will need to come from central government.

Friends of the Earth have a tool on their website which allows us to look at how well our local areas are doing in terms of tackling climate change. A summary of the results for Preston are as follows:

  • 5% of Preston is woodland. The highest proportion in similar areas is 19%. The UK should aim to double its tree cover.
  • 30% of commuter journeys in Preston are on public transport. Preston should aim for 70% by 2030.
  • 38% of Preston homes are well insulated. This needs to increase to 100% by 2030.
  • 30% of household waste is reused, composted or recycled. Preston should aim for 70% by 2025.
  • Preston has 14 megawatts of renewable energy available. 100% of Preston’s energy should be green.

And here’s a summary of the targets for Preston from Friends of the Earth:

  • Cease supporting or promoting new high carbon infrastructure, such as roads or airports
  • Annual emissions reductions – 13%
  • Homes to insulate per year – 3,356
  • Number of eco-heating systems, such as heat pumps, to fit each year – 1,996
  • Proportion of commuters walking, cycling or using public transport by 2030 – 70%
  • Increase lift-sharing – major employers should aim to have 40% of their staff who travel to work by car doing so by lift-sharing
  • Electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 – at least 58 stations
  • Renewable energy – at least 105MW
  • Trees – Aim for 20% tree cover
  • Household waste reuse, recycling and composting by 2025 – 70% (on path to reach zero waste as soon as possible)
  • Divestment – zero investment in fossil fuel companies as soon as possible.

If Preston is going to achieve all of this then we all need to be on board and support our City Council to make climate change a priority. They need to take the word ’emergency’ seriously and start directing funds towards this right now.

At Climate Action Preston, one of the things we can do to help is try to get our Council to adopt the Friends of the Earth Climate Action Plan. This is a 50 point plan which sets specific targets for what councils need to do in order to reach the 2030 net zero goal. The idea is not for Preston City Council to adopt it exactly as is, but to consider which actions are relevant to the city and which need altering or adding to for us.

So what can you do? Take a look at the plan and pick you top action. Which action would you most like to see Preston City Council tackle as an urgent priority? Why is this particular action important to you? What positive changes do you envisage if the council adopt that action? Let us know what you think and we can take your ideas to the council. Get in touch by commenting or email us at

You can also email your Councillor directly about the issue of climate change. Find your local Councillor here. Or email Robert Boswell, who is the Cabinet Member for the Environment: Let us know if you get a response!