In June 2019, the States agreed that mitigating climate change should be an area of focus within the Future Guernsey Plan.
The work to be carried out as part of the Future Guernsey Plan area of focus 'Mitigate Climate Change' includes the development of a climate change policy and action plan, to be debated by the States by May 2020. The States also agreed, as an immediate action, that all policy matters brought to the Assembly should address their consequential impact on the environment.
In setting this as one of the areas of focus of the Future Guernsey Plan, the States has recognised that climate change has reached a critical point and that Guernsey must urgently address the climate and ecological crisis at both local and international levels.
Not only does Guernsey - like all other jurisdictions - contribute to global climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases but, as an island, it is already feeling the impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels in the Channel Islands are already being experienced, and volatile and violent weather patterns are increasing, leading to a greater risk of flooding, flood damage, hotter summers and milder winters.
The need for urgent action on climate change is widely recognised and, as a mature and responsible jurisdiction, Guernsey is alive to the pressing need to minimise its carbon emissions and reduce its environmental impact. Relatively good progress has been made to date, with the existing undersea electricity cable to France via Jersey reducing Guernsey's carbon emissions by around 35% on 1990 levels.
Guernsey continues to make good progress through government policy and service delivery. A number of existing States of Guernsey strategies, policies, and programmes indirectly contribute towards mitigating climate change. These include the renewable energy programme, integrated transport strategy, waste strategy, and biodiversity strategy. Work is also underway in a number of areas which will further enable the States to meet this objective. This includes the development of a new energy policy, the hydrocarbons supply programme, and the States' long-term investment infrastructure plan.
In addition, Guernsey Finance and the Guernsey Financial Services Commission are developing a 'green finance' offer that combines the island's finance sector expertise with its desire to be a part of global efforts against climate change.
However, more must be done to achieve the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are necessary in order to avert dangerous levels of global warming. This area of focus will therefore include work to:
- Coordinate the different ongoing work streams to ensure the cumulative impact is effective;
- Initiate and work towards a more unified climate change policy, commencing through the formulation of a 'Climate Change Action Plan'; and
- Scope the policy recommendations and phase the work streams of the Climate Change Action Plan, and determine if service areas can effectively accommodate another set of initiatives.
More information on this area of focus can be found in sections 3.51 - 3.60 of the Future Guernsey Plan 2019 Update Policy Letter.