A NEW climate change committee’s first task will be to establish the level of carbon emissions in the city - so it can work towards the goal of York becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

City of York Council’s climate change group met for the first time on Tuesday evening to discuss what areas the panel should focus on. And the room was packed with campaigners, scientists and residents eager to hear how the local authority could tackle the challenge of reducing carbon emissions.

Chloe Wilcox from York Youth Strikes for Climate spoke at the meeting, asking if campaigners could be updated on progress made since the climate emergency was declared in March.

She said: “When people come out and they take action - when they sacrifice a day of work or school - they want to know why they’re doing it and what impact they’re actually having.”

Members of the committee suggested initiatives they could focus on - including increasing the number of trees planted in the city.

Cllr Tony Fisher said: “The council supports the Treemendous initiative to plant 50,000 trees - I wonder if we could be more ambitious than that actually.

“We could engage with people who have land that’s not used - let’s get trees on there as much as possible.”

Cllr Stuart Barnes suggested the council could look at investing in green initiatives.

He said: “[We could look at] investment in low-carbon technologies and industries in almost the same way as we have an investment portfolio in property in the city which generates a revenue in terms of rents.”

And Cllr Rosie Baker suggested better climate training for councillors and staff, saying: “I believe there’s still quite a knowledge deficit in what a climate emergency is and what we need to do about it.”

Chair of the committee Cllr Christian Vassie said he was grateful for residents supporting the council’s efforts to tackle climate change.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “Over time we are going to see massive changes. But our first challenge is to understand where we are and then work methodically - it’s a temptation to say ‘my favourite project is this, let’s put some solar panels over here or put some wildflowers over there'.

“It’s too easy to be distracted.

“I hope the public will bear with us as we do what hasn’t been done for many years and should have been done - which is to properly understand where we are.

“It’s such a challenge. The idea the local authority can do it by itself is ridiculous. So seeing all those people here today - informed and passionate and hoping at last we are going to do something - I’m really grateful that they came to support us. They will bring knowledge and expertise and passion and that speaks well for the future.”