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Nottingham Delivers Home Comfort, Rooftop Solar in Drive to Be UK’s First Carbon-Neutral City

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Nottingham, England is setting out to transform housing, transportation, energy use, and waste management in a bid to become the country’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028, a full 22 years before the UK hopes to hit the same target.

The draft plan was published last week and went out for public consultation two days ago, The Independent reports [1]. Now the town is in a foot race with Edinburgh, Bristol, and Glasgow, all of which have announced net-zero targets by 2030.

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“If it stands still, we’re going to put a solar panel on it,” said deputy city leader Sally Longford, the local cabinet member for energy, environment, and democratic services. “If it moves, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it moves on clean energy.”

Of all the UK cities in the net-zero race, Nottingham may be the most advanced.

“Already the city powers 5,000 homes and more than 100 businesses through energy created from its own waste; is building a network of 300 charge points to encourage use of electric vehicles; and has established a bus and tram system so effective that 40% of all journeys are now made on public transport—more than any British city outside London,” The Independent writes. “For good measure, some 178 of those buses run off either electric or bio gas.”

The local council “has cut its own energy use by some 40% over the last decade and installed 4,000 solar panels across its own buildings, while also setting up the in-house Robin Hood Energy company to supply 130,000 customers with entirely renewable power,” the paper adds. “So far ahead of the game is the city, that it has already met its (self-set) 2005 target of reducing greenhouse gases by a quarter by 2020. It smashed it four years ago.”

“We’ve not just been talking about climate action,” Longford explained. “We’ve got on and done it.” The local initiative “was called anti-car at the time and we got a lot of flak,” she recalled, but “it has made Nottingham far healthier and less congested. We were ahead of the curve.”

The Independent opens its coverage in a council flat occupied by 78-year-old Ernest Gregory, who remembers the days of watching the draft blow his curtains when it was windy outside, even though his windows were closed. “Some nights in winters, we’d put the heating right up,” he told the paper. “But we’d still put our coats on just to stay warm.”

After the city retrofitted 27,000 council homes with new siding, net-zero central heating, and rooftop solar panels, producing some of the country’s greenest housing stock, “I put the radiators on for a couple of hours in the morning and it’s warm all day,” he told The Independent. “You can’t believe how nice it is not to get out of bed and start shivering.”