COMMENT: We need to be in the vanguard, not bringing up the rear

Everybody knows that the environment is going to be high on the political and news agendas in the coming years.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 12:00 am

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, is being held in Glasgow at the end of next month, bringing together world leaders to get their commitment to take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis and meet the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Here in Portsmouth there are plans to link into COP26 with the city's own Climate Festival to raise awareness of the particular climate challenges we face right here on our island doorstep. It's a positive move and we welcome anything that provides a focus for such an important subject.

But as we talk about decarbonisation, renewable energy and electric vehicles, it seems there will be winners and losers in terms of the economic opportunities the shift to greener living and working will provide.

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We report today how Portsmouth and Hampshire could get left behind in the journey towards net-zero, with a Social Market Foundation study claiming that local authorities in the north stand to gain more from meeting the government's target.

Each council has been given a score, called a Net Zero Opportunity Index, and Portsmouth ranked 330th out of all local authorities, with Fareham at 136, Gosport at 250 and Havant at 322.

Portsmouth City Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson insists the city has already made significant progress towards going net-zero.

But he admits there is still 'a lot more work to do'.

Decarbonisation stands to bring huge benefits to those local authorities leading the charge for change. But others risk getting left behind, both economically and environmentally.

As a city we need to do all we can to be in the vanguard of transformation, not bringing up the rear.