Image Credit: Nilfanion
City of York Council has become the first council in England to join the United Nations’ International Centre of Excellence programme at COP26. The council joined on 3 November 2021 in recognition of its housing delivery programme. York joins a network of 26 members and the centre is particularly concerned with monitoring progress towards tackling the climate emergency and reducing fuel poverty.
As part of the council’s plans to build 600 new homes across council owned sites, it has pledged to deliver 120 progressive zero carbon homes for the Burnholme and Duncombe Barracks neighbourhoods. Residents will live in Passivhaus homes and open space will surround the buildings. A key aim of the housing delivery programme is to transform the immediate environment around houses so that they are both sustainable and well-connected to green transport connections. Despite Insulate Britain , the environmental activist group, continuing to disrupt commuters by blocking major roads in the south of England, York’s council is already offering grant-funded insulation for low-income households as part of the Home Upgrade Grant scheme. The housing reforms will be important in contributing towards the council’s ambition of York becoming a net-zero carbon city by 2030.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said: “I’m delighted that our progressive and ambitious Housing Delivery Programme has received international recognition. Joining the UN’s Centre of Excellence on High Performing Buildings allows our programme team to connect and learn from others around the world who are pursuing innovative plans to reduce carbon emissions within their communities.
“The membership of this network will facilitate sharing research, influencing policy and supply chains, as well as raising awareness of the opportunities to deliver new homes and neighbourhoods which meet the needs of current and future generations. I look forward to hearing more about the work from COP26 and to working with UNECE as part of the network of Centres of Excellence, to promote the development of sustain - able housing and buildings on a global stage.”
York’s council has been leading the way by only accounting for less than four percent of York’s total emissions. On Saturday 6 October, environmental activists and trade unions gathered outside York Minster to mark COP26 Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.
As a sign that COP26 has inspired unions far away from Glasgow, York TUC president Leigh Wilks said “The window of opportunity for nations to get to grips with the climate crisis is shrinking exponentially as time goes by. Of all the issues facing the world that require decisive and coordinated action, this is the one which dwarfs all others.”
In addition to plans for more sustainable housing, the council has revealed that it aims to invest £3.3 million in walking and cycling infrastructure over the next two years.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Transport, said “walking and cycling are healthy and efficient transport options that help to reduce congestion for those who need to use a vehicle, however 24 percent of respondents to a recent Our Big Conversation survey said that unsuitable cycle routes prevent them from using sustainable transport."