Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy

Last updated: 30 September 2021

2. Executive Summary

Increasing concentrations of specific pollutants in the air due to human activity have given rise to climate change and poor air quality. Local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that concentrations of certain reactive gases and particulate matter are at safe levels, as set out in the National Air Quality Objectives. Air Quality Action Plans have been developed to tackle exceedances of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in 9 areas in Buckinghamshire.

Major sources of pollutants affecting local air quality (for example transport) are also main sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Buckinghamshire. GHGs trap radiation from the Sun causing our planet to warm. As levels of GHGs (or carbon emissions) increase, the Earth gets hotter – our climate changes. The effects of climate change on weather, biodiversity, food and water supplies, economy and health are being felt now.

Against the motion passed in 2020 to address climate change, this strategy sets out how we will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and improve air quality across Buckinghamshire. We have direct control over emissions from our own operations but have lower levels of control over emissions elsewhere in the County - being limited in terms of our ability to regulate, purchase, enable or influence change. Correspondingly, actions to address climate change and air quality are presented in sections titled ‘The Council’s Emissions to Air’, ‘Suppliers and Partners’, and ‘County-wide’.

The actions in this strategy have been developed following workshops involving representatives from every council directorate, carbon emissions research, and public engagement surveys. They address: emission reductions from sources such as

  • buildings and waste
  • air pollutant sequestration
  • absorption or screening
  • managing flood risk.

The ‘Governance’ section sets out how we manage the strategy to ensure continual improvement – taking advantage of future developments as they arise to improve delivery.

Tackling climate change and poor air quality presents significant opportunities for all of us. Helping everyone to recognise this and take action is critical to the success of this strategy. As such there is a specific focus on actions relating to communication and behaviour.