Climate action at the forefront of the Council’s agenda

Between November 7th and 18th, world leaders are gathering in Egypt for the United Nations climate summit – COP27 and, whilst the world’s attention will be focused on the negotiations taking place on the global stage, Carmarthenshire County Council is also hosting a fortnight of activities to highlight its role in reducing its carbon emissions.

On Tuesday, November 8, Council Leader, Cllr Darren Price and the Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Decarbonisation and Sustainability, Cllr Aled Vaughan Owen, hosted pupils from Drefach and Cross Hands primary schools at the Chamber of County Hall for a debate on renewable energy.

Cllr Aled Vaughan Owen also visited Ysgol Penrhos, Llanelli to see examples of how climate change awareness is being taught across the curriculum. Ysgol Penrhos is currently participating in the Pharmabees Programme, led by Cardiff University, which sees the school house beehives on its grounds and trains a number of its staff as beekeepers.

Cardiff University has also supplied the school with age-appropriate teaching materials and bee-friendly plants. In addition to this, Ysgol Penrhos has also recently launched a clean air programme known as ‘Our Climate Classroom’.

Another initiative launched by the Council during COP27 is Energy Sparks.

Energy Sparks is an online energy analysis tool and energy education programme that is designed to help primary and secondary schools reduce their electricity and gas usage through the analysis of smart meter data and thus reduce their carbon emissions to make a real contribution to addressing the climate emergency.

Air Quality Monitor in Priory Street, Carmarthen
During the fortnight of activities to mark COP27, Carmarthenshire County Council will also install a real-time Air Quality Monitor in Priory Street, Carmarthen. The Council has a monitoring network of Nitrogen Dioxide diffusion tubes, located across the County and pre-dominantly within our three declared Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA’s), in Llandeilo, Llanelli and Carmarthen. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is created by the combustion of fossil fuels, with the biggest source in Carmarthenshire attributed to traffic.

Whilst the Council continue to observe reductions in NO2, compared to the pre-pandemic years, the results of the monitoring network indicate that further improvement is required in Priory Street, Carmarthen. The current monitoring provides monthly results, therefore, the Council have arranged to install a real-time air quality monitor, called an ‘AQ Mesh’, in Priory Street to better understand the real-time exposure during different times and days. The real-time data will help inform the Council’s next steps in deciding the best course of action to improve air quality in this area.

Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Decarbonisation and Sustainability, Cllr Aled Vaughan Owen said: “Responsibility for the environment and climate falls upon us all and whilst it is important that world leaders are meeting at COP27 to discuss how to combat climate change, we must all play our part in this effort.

“I am delighted that our school children are playing such an active role in highlighting the need to take climate action and learning of innovative methods that we can be kinder to our planet. It was a pleasure to welcome pupils from Drefach and Cross Hands schools to the Chamber at County Hall, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their debate on climate change and would like to thank them for their important contribution to this global discussion.

“I would also like to thank the children, teachers and support staff at Ysgol Penrhos for their warm welcome and the wonderful demonstration of the Pharmabees Programme.

“Improving air quality in our towns and villages is one effort, of many, that we are undertaking to ensure that we reduce the amount of carbon that we, as a local authority, release to the atmosphere. The installation of a real-time air quality monitor in Priory Street, Carmarthen, is part of our efforts to gain a more in-depth understanding of how traffic affects the air quality in that area.”