An East Lancashire council has become the first local authority in the county to become a silver level Carbon Literate Organisation.

Burnley Borough Council is also only the fifth authority in the country to have received the national award which recognises its dedication to tackling climate change and reducing its carbon emissions.

In 2019, the council declared a climate emergency and committed to reducing its carbon footprint, aiming to become a Net Zero authority by 2050.

Councillor Scott Cunliffe, the council’s executive member for sustainability and growth, said: “This is the result of a lot of hard work by council officers to achieve this marvellous result.

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“Burnley is leading the way when it comes to other councils across Britain in terms of carbon literacy and giving staff the knowledge and skills to tackle climate change and take climate action to reduce our negative impact on the environment.

“It’s one of many steps the council has taken since 2019 to reduce its carbon footprint and climate action is a key part of all our work.”

Since declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the council has taken some significant green gains in tackling climate change, including:

  • Establishing the council’s carbon budget and identifying key areas where emissions can be reduced
  • Measuring and monitoring emissions from key facilities to look at where they can reduce energy, decarbonise their buildings, and make them more energy efficient
  • Look into the best method to measure emissions data within out supply chain and service procurement, so they can take a complete approach to reducing emissions
  • Switching their vehicle fleet from diesel to electric
  • Rolling out a network of electric vehicle charging points, including 21 fast charge stations in eight public car parks across the borough
  • Encouraging recycling in council buildings
  • Installing energy-saving lighting and other measures in council buildings
  • Winning funding from Trees for Cities to enable 7,500 trees to be planted in the last six months
  • Encouraging nature recovery by taking a new approach to grass management to create wildlife havens and encourage greater biodiversity

The council’s chief executive Lukman Patel said: “Only a handful of councils across the country have achieved this award and most of them are big city or county councils with far more resources.

“It shows the commitment of the council and our staff to making positive changes that will make our borough cleaner and greener for generations to come. We all have a part to play in tackling climate change.”

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The council worked with the Carbon Literacy Project to develop an internal training programme, as a result of which 15 per cent of staff received the training and went on to become formally certified as Carbon Literate. This includes the chief executive and all heads of service, who have completed the training with the aim of Carbon Literacy and its importance in decision-making being passed down through management.

Dave Coleman, co-founder and managing director of the Carbon Literacy Project, said: “By becoming a Silver level accredited Carbon Literate organisation, Burnley Council has demonstrated its commitment to genuine low carbon action, environmental and economic impact, and the building of a low carbon future for us all.”