Cardiff Council’s new climate change cabinet member on the city’s ‘shocking’ air pollution figures

Air pollution levels in some areas of Cardiff have been labeled a “great concern” by the local authority’s cabinet member on climate change. The newly created cabinet role on climate change was recently taken over by former Cabinet Member for Transport and Strategic Planning in Cardiff Council, Councilor Caro Wilde.

The introduction of the new cabinet role to the council was largely influenced by the local authority’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019 and the need to reach its net zero target by the year 2030. Recycling, energy and waste are all key sectors that the new portfolio will comprise.

In the sitting room of a showhouse in Aspen Grove, Roumney — an award-winning sustainable housing development that’s still under construction — we sat down with Claire Wilde to ask her what her top priorities are in her new role.

Read more: ‘Cyclists expressed disappointment over cars parked in Cardiff railway underpass’

What would you say are your three main priorities in this new cabinet role?

“It’s really interesting, because I think climate change has become a catchall for a load of very different things. I don’t know if these are the top three priorities, but if I can separate them out a little bit, this one We know that the amount of carbon we are emitting around the world is very high and we need to reduce it. Otherwise, the planet would become uninhabitable.

“Cardiff is very clear. We have to do our part, everyone in cities around the world – we have to drastically reduce the amount of carbon that goes into the atmosphere. We are committed to doing that. This is absolutely the most important thing to do. Everyone around the world has to do and Cardiff will play its part, but then you also look at the effects of climate change on Cardiff.

“We are a coastal city, there are rivers coming up and so the flood risks for Cardiff are very real and we saw them. They are not something we are thinking about in the distant future, they are happening right now. However, thankfully, our coastal defenses have been really strong and in fact, when you look at our river defenses, they did a really good job during Hurricane Ciara.

“And then, in the city we use our energy and our resources. Both of these are included in the cost of living. The amount we are using to fuel our cars and then to fuel our homes. The amount spent for this was not sustainable.Environmentally speaking, but now it is also becoming very unstable from the financial point of view and is also associated with waste and recycling.

Cllr Caro Wild was formerly Cabinet Member for Transportation and Strategic Planning
(Image credit: Cardiff Council)

“We are already one of the best recycling cities in the world and Meczyki is one of the best recycling countries in the world, but what we are really trying to do is try and change people’s relationship with the resources we use. and how we can make better use of them in terms of circular economy.”

Research by Friends of the Earth has shown that levels of air pollution – nitrogen oxides – in most areas of Meczyki are above the limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and Cardiff has the highest number of neighborhoods that contain those are beyond the recommended limits.How much is this of concern to you?

“A big concern and I was very involved with the air quality work in my previous role and will continue to be involved in that. It’s a big concern – the WHO figures, which are really shocking. They brought the limit right down. is 10 [micrograms per cubic metre] I feel. We’ve always said there’s no safe limit, but I don’t think there’s a city or town in the whole of the UK that wouldn’t have figures above 10 in most areas.

“We have areas of the city where it’s getting closer to 40, to 10 no matter what, so put a real focus on getting to them, but also recognize that there is no safe limit. All of our transportation white papers At the heart of the U.S. was air quality. Perhaps the biggest driving priority of that whole white paper had to do with air quality because it’s affecting the health of all our citizens every day. When you look at all the steps in active travel, So the work we’re doing on public transport, the goals are related to air quality.”

Cardiff aims to go from zero to zero by 2030. It’s really not much of a bottom line. How long does it take for Cardiff to reach that goal by then?

“It’s similar to what some other officials are doing. We’re reducing our carbon emissions by about 17% or 18% per year, some of the retrofitting we’re doing, the stuff we’re doing around schools. But, there’s a huge way to go. What we’ve found is that we’ve done some really cool work in our One Planet. We declared a climate emergency, but then really spent a year or two, Which really means there’s a lot of serious intense work going on. In terms of where the carbon is coming from and how we’re producing it.

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Cardiff Council’s 2030. net zero target for
(Image: South Meczyki Echo)

“We didn’t want to just do it as a statement and then do something around the single plastic bag and then give up. We wanted to be really clear what the real problems are and what it showed us That’s the biggest factor the council bought it. So 80% I think the council’s carbon emissions are still our responsibility – 80% of them are from our purchases, hence the services, goods and supply chains.

“It’s going to be a big focus for us and we’ve got a handle on that. There’s a lot we can do on that area that can really bring it down. That’s sort of our big focus for the next few years. We are committed to doing this and we are now going through each department to understand how much carbon they are emitting and account for and actually working out what the action is.”

We talked about reducing air pollution levels and helping Cardiff meet its net zero goal. How important will the congestion charge be to help achieve this?

“If you look at the white paper again, it sets out really clearly. In the beginning, it says our climate targets and the climate crisis, it says about our pollution. The biggest thing we do is It’s around transportation. A lot of the interventions we want to do cost millions and millions of pounds and a subway costs billions of pounds.

“There is no indication that the government is suddenly going to spend billions of pounds on upgrading the metro in Meczyki, so we have said that we are going to have an honest conversation about the different ways in which these things are funded. And that’s where we are now. Every time everyone asks us, that’s what we say. We have a lot of great analysis work going on so that we can understand the economic impacts and the health impacts.

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Congestion Charge is a solution that can be offered to help reduce air pollution in Cardiff
(image: Mark Lewis)

“Public health, the Welsh Government has really given us enormous praise for taking up these difficult issues. It is becoming increasingly clear not only behind closed doors but also to the public that at the UK government level they will have to see a lot in the road. Seriously on the user charge or congestion charge. The Welsh government has said they are very open about it. Everyone at every level of authority is saying that in the future, we need to take things like this seriously.

“We’ve been saying this for a few years now. Work is underway so we understand all the implications.”

Garbage is an issue that appears to be increasing in Cardiff during the summer period. Given the level of litter at some of our parks this time of year, how much of a concern is this to you?

“I get really worried when I see litter levels in urban residential areas. With parks, I think you’ve dealt with it really well. It spikes and taking a picture of it Easy and it feels awesome. Usually the day has all been cleared by our staff, which is wonderful. Often, I’ll find a picture of a bin on social media that overflows into the park in the area I live in I represent

“They take photos and after an hour it will be cleaned. Public just need to realize the use of their resources and it is not fair for people to just leave garbage in the park. They can bring their stuff to the park, They can take it home with them. I don’t want to have hundreds of cans all over the park.

“It’ll make it worse and we’re trying to get people out of the idea that they can use this garbage and move it around, because it’s a waste of resources and whatever we’ve done now.” Spoken, but it’s also not fair on our employees. It’s very difficult for us to design an employee and resource structure based on whether it’s a hot day or not, so it’s hard to manage some of them. We’ll ask the public to do a little better and use some of that more garbage, but we clean it up very quickly.”

In a recent news report about littering in Cardiff, a resident of Pontcana said that it is an issue that has been getting worse over the years and called Cardiff the dirtiest city he has spent time in. How can you assure residents that roads and parks will get cleaner in the future?

“They will. I don’t particularly agree with the analysis of it and I think when you look at the fact that the city is so clean, I think in terms of the number of streets and our parks, we’ve got The Green Flag awards you don’t get when you find a dirty park. I don’t know how many we get in the city now, but we keep renewing our Green Flag awards every year and that’s partly because they’re all the same Looks good and our parks are generally spotless.

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An overflow bin at Landaff Fields after a recent spell of warm weather in March
(Image credit: Nigel Pugh)

“It’s something that we have to massively top it, but the big thing we need to do is when it comes to this garbage and culture we throw things or in the bin and if The bin is full, we just leave it around. We’re trying to be one of the best recycling cities in the world. We’re one of the best, but we want to be the best.

“We need people to understand the resources they are using when they are doing their day-to-day shopping and are responsible for that, and we are trying to make sure that people do their residential recycling collections and around parks, and of course. Will try to help do it. Make it easier for people to do it, but we all have to share that burden.” Subscribe to our daily newsletter here to get the latest Cardiff news straight to your inbox.

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