Newcastle bids to become climate-neutral and smart city

4 February 2022

Newcastle City Council has submitted a bid to the European Commission for the city to become one of its 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030.

The chosen cities will become innovation hubs and act as leading examples for all other European cities to follow by 2050 in the transition towards climate neutrality.

Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “This is a huge opportunity for our city and shows our ambition to continue to play a leading role in tackling the climate emergency.

“Becoming a climate-neutral and smart city would help us build on the vast amount of good work we have achieved already, while enabling us to learn from and share our experiences with other major European cities and create new funding opportunities.

“The challenge we are facing around climate change is at the heart of everything we do, which is why I’m incredibly proud of the innovative work we have done to rapidly reduce emissions and create greener, healthier and more sustainable futures for everyone.”

Cllr Clare Penny-Evans, Newcastle City Council Cabinet member for climate change and public safety, said: “The climate crisis is the single biggest challenge facing our city so I am excited about the new opportunities becoming a climate-neutral and smart city would create.

“As a council we have worked with businesses to identify how they can drive down the emissions they generate, secured around £30m in the past year to improve the energy efficiency of public buildings and deliver low carbon heating systems to a range of buildings across the city including schools, libraries and leisure centres.

“We have also successfully delivered the Electrification of Heat programme, installing over 300 heat pumps into residential properties across the city, and led a consortium of six local authorities to secure large amounts of funding for the North East Community Forest, which will see tens of thousands of tree planted across the region.

“We look forward to working with major cities across Europe to help us become carbon-neutral by 2030.”

The benefits of Newcastle becoming a climate-neutral and smart city include:

  • Unlocking additional funding through EU programmes
  • Opportunities for cities to be part of large innovation actions and pilot projects
  • Support through a national coordination network
  • Learning from and exchanging experiences with other cities
  • Involving residents and local communities in climate neutral solutions

In November, Newcastle retained its status as one of the world’s climate leaders for its ongoing efforts to achieve net zero by 2030, one of only 11 places in the UK to receive the top “A” grade from international climate research provider CDP and one of only 95 globally.

Last week, Newcastle City Council was ranked the 4th best single tier authority and 7th out of all 409 local authorities in the country for its climate action plan, following analysis by Climate Emergency UK.

The organisation scored plans against 28 questions grouped into nine categories, including how well councils’ plans would mitigate the impact of climate change locally, climate education, scale of emissions targets and whether climate and ecological emergency was integrated into existing policies.

Newcastle City Council received an overall score of 82% and scored highly for its commitment to tackle the climate emergency and community involvement.