THE Press asked leading York councillors to look ahead to 2024. Here Cllr Kate Ravilious and Cllr Jenny Kent, joint executive members for environment on the Labour-run City of York Council administration, talk about the challenges and things to look forward to.


2023 is going to be the hottest year on record, topping off the ten warmest years in recorded history, all of which have occurred in the last decade.   


York is already feeling these changes, with larger and more frequent floods, and in public realm we are noticing that grass cutting and leaf clearing take longer due to a longer growing season and extended periods of wet weather. When Labour was elected in May this year, we pledged to cut carbon emissions and accelerate the city’s climate commitment towards reaching net zero carbon by 2030.  


Over the last eight months our focus has been on the areas where the council has the greatest influence; developing our transport strategy, accelerating our programme to decarbonise council homes and starting a pilot project to plant trees upstream to help reduce flooding in the city. This year the council’s amazing carbon reduction team has been awarded nearly £9m of funding for a variety of projects which we’ll start to roll out next year. 


We’re really excited to start 2024 on a collaborative note with the revival of the York Climate Commission in early January. Businesses and organisations from across the city have been invited to come and work together, sharing ideas and providing support as we work towards our net zero goal and creation of a sustainable city, capable of weathering the storms ahead. If your organisation hasn’t received an invitation and you’d like to come along, please email:  


By late spring our ‘Get York Buzzing’ project will bring cheer to residents and visitors, and sustenance for our pollinating insects, swapping out begonias in the city centre for drought-tolerant perennials. 210,000 trees (one for each resident) will be planted by volunteers to complete the Community Woodland and we’ll be planting two Royal micro-woods (each the size of a tennis court) in the Autumn.


Later in 2024 residents will get much needed advice and support to future- proof their own homes with our ‘One stop home retrofit shop’, providing start-to-finish support with making homes energy efficient. Major renovations will be taking place on two of our independent living complexes, insulating them from top-to-toe and installing renewable energy systems to create warm, energy-efficient and healthy places to live. And spades will go in the ground at Ordnance Lane in Fishergate, continuing the ambitious Passivhaus programme but enhancing it by adding 40 more homes – now all 100% affordable.


Renewable energy projects including solar, wind, heat networks and heat pumps are going to be given a major boost as we partner with a renewable energy company to accelerate green energy investment in the city. And thanks to Net Zero funding through the Combined Authority we are already out of the starting blocks with plans being developed for a substantial solar farm at Harewood Winn – an old landfill site to the west of York.


Addressing climate change is a massive challenge and not something we can do on our own. We’re building on the work of the previous administration and inviting cross-party involvement to create consensus and long-term solutions. We’re looking forward to working in partnership with everyone, ensuring that our combined actions make our city more resilient and a wonderful place to live for generations to come. The global impact of climate change here in York shows us we have no other option.