BARNSLEY Council is set to declare a ‘climate emergency’ with plans to create a zero-carbon borough earlier than its original target.

The council says its strategy is to reduce pollution levels and bosses are aiming to a achieve a zero carbon borough by 2040 – ten years sooner than the government is aiming for nationally – as air pollution has been cited as the fourth biggest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity.

However, the declaration of a climate emergency is seen as a statement of intent, a council report said, and the 2040 target could be hit sooner as a result.

A report, which will be discussed by ruling cabinet members at Barnsley Town Hall on Wednesday, said: “A climate emergency declaration issued by a council can only be a powerful catalyst for action if paired with a clear deliverable action plan.

“Several early adopters with shorter end dates have had to extend their timeframes because they found the dates were unachievable and unaffordable.

“The council may be challenged that 2040 is not ambitious enough. Most other local authorities who have declared climate emergencies have carbon neutrality targets of 2030 or 2035. Environmental activists have openly challenged targets of even 2035.

“While a 2030 target may be unobtainable it is however a statement of intent and many local authorities have declared for 2030 on that basis.”