Big turnout to plan a zero carbon future for Leeds

10th June, 2019 - 10:35


A grassroots event to create a vision for a zero carbon future for Leeds attracted a sold-out audience of 300 people.

The event, which was held on Thursday 6 June at the former Bridge Street Church, was to launch Our Future Leeds, a new network that has formed in response to Leeds City Council declaring a climate emergency.  

Paul Chatterton, Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Leeds, has co-organised the movement, calling for individuals, academics, local groups, businesses and politicians to unite and collaborate.

He said: “Our Future Leeds wants to bring people together, make connections and expand and support the many amazing solutions that already exist in Leeds that can help make Leeds zero carbon by 2030 and a fairer, liveable and sustainable place.”

The event was organised by staff and students from the University of Leeds, Leeds YouthStrike4Climate, Extinction Rebellion and others. It was introduced and emceed by writer and poet Sai Murray.

Local politicians and council officers, who are involved in planning and implementing the city’s target of being carbon neutral by 2030, also attended. Polly Cook, Executive Programme Manager for Leeds City Council, was invited to speak about the actions the Council is taking, including having the climate emergency as part of portfolio with transport and sustainable development, and the setting up of a new, cross-party climate change advisory committee.

“It’s great to have Leeds City Council stating that the climate emergency is at the heart of everything they do,” said Paul Chatterton.

Paul demonstrated the huge reduction in carbon emissions reductions Leeds needs to make to achieve the city’s ambitious target with a graph that took an inventive turn on traditional powerpoint. Using a combination of cut-up bedsheets and spray paint, he showed the city’s carbon budget to 2030, based on the Leeds Carbon Roadmap produced by a team led by Prof Andy Gouldson, Chair of Leeds Climate Commission.

The event, described as “fair fizzing with ideas” by Cllr Neil Walshaw, who attended as Chair of Leeds City Council Climate Change Advisory Committee “but also as a Human on Earth”, was deemed a big success, with an enthusiastic and positive reception in the hall and on Twitter. 

However, Our Future Leeds is under no illusion that the hard work to transform Leeds has only just begun. “Last night we had hope and connection! Today we return to the reality of business as usual. But big change starts now …, We have 10 years to save this city,” tweeted Paul Chatterton.

Watch the first part of the event here.

For more information and to get involved, follow Leeds for Climate on Facebook and @OurFutureLeeds on Twitter (#OurFutureLeeds).

Photo: Mark Davis, Twitter