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Council deputy becomes climate champion

17 February, 2023

A senior Sunderland councillor has joined a growing number of politicians seeking to ensure their communities achieve Net Zero ahead of the government's 2050 target.

Cllr Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, has completed training with UK100's Climate Leadership Academy to help the city become a global climate pioneer.

Cllr Rowntree, who is the council's clean, green city portfolio holder, played a key role in shaping the city's Low Carbon Framework and is committed to learning more about the climate challenges facing the city and making Sunderland cleaner and greener.

The Climate Leadership Academy 'offers ambitious councillors a unique coaching opportunity' to develop their political skill, knowledge, and confidence, to become leading climate pioneers in local government.

The Academy brings together a cohort of 20 councillors to attend tailored residential workshops and coaching for three residential weekends. The sessions cover key policy areas including decarbonising homes, buildings and transport, financing the transition to decarbonisation, nature and energy.

Cllr Rowntree said: "Participating in the Climate Leadership Academy training has been a real eye-opening experience and one that will prove invaluable in our efforts to drive down carbon output in Sunderland.

"The workshops have been tremendously useful in helping us identify ways to help the city achieve its ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and how we can educate the public of its many economic, environmental and societal benefits.

"We are committed to creating a low-carbon future for Sunderland by reducing its carbon emissions, and the training has allowed me to learn so much more about the action needed to reduce the impact of human activity on the climate."

The Climate Leadership Academy supports and encourages councillors in leadership positions to be 'bold and ambitious climate pioneers', with politicians from across the country and political spectrum representing different tiers of local government, coming together to help tackle the climate crisis.

Sunderland's Low Carbon Framework and its wider efforts to combat climate change were also recently recognised alongside the likes of Paris, Stockholm and Santa Monica as part of a global campaign by WWF.

As a national finalist in the WWF One Planet City Challenge last year, Sunderland has been invited to participate in the global 'We Love Cities' campaign for sustainability and climate action, which aims to inspire and raise awareness of progress being made in cities; give people an opportunity to celebrate, vote and upgrade their city by making suggestions to decision makers; reward communities and strengthen the bond between residents and policymakers.

"WWF's recognition of our efforts to become carbon neutral and of our commitment to bringing residents on the journey with us was absolutely fantastic and is testament to the fantastic work being done across the city," Cllr Rowntree added.

"But we can't afford to stop there. With the clock ticking to 2030, initiatives such as participating in the Climate Leadership Academy and empowering local businesses and communities to join us in the fight against climate change through the Low Carbon Framework will be key to ensuring the city remains a global climate pioneer and we will do everything in our power to help the city achieve its goals."

To learn more about Sunderland City Council's Low Carbon Framework, visit: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/18247/Sunderland-Low-Carbon-Framework#:~:text=The%20Low%20Carbon%20Framework%20focuses,work%20will%20be%20taken%20forward

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