THE boss of a national park authority has said all organisations should be judged on their climate change actions, rather than simply their ambitions, ahead of setting an “extremely challenging” target of going “way beyond” net zero carbon.

Setting out a “deliberately ambitious” proposed climate change objective for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, its chief executive David Butterworth has warned achieving it would not be straightforward, the value of the authority taking the lead in demonstrating what can be achieved should not be underestimated.

The authority, whose members were among numerous public bodies in the region to declare a climate emergency last year,  is already regarded as one of the country’s leading carbon cutting public bodies. It started a programme in 2006 to cut its emissions and by March last year had achieved a 62 per cent fall, which when combined with the tree planting it funds means the authority has already achieved net zero carbon.

A report for the authority admits its approach to cutting emissions in recent years has become “more ad hoc” and sets out an aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 95 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The report, by Mr Butterworth, also proposes the annual carbon savings from woodland planting the authority funds will be at least 30 times its annual emissions.

The report argues national parks should be powerful contributors to climate change solutions and that helping others understand how they can help tackle climate change is part of their statutory duties.

He states: “National parks are a critical element of driving a national step-change in behaviour and inspiring collective action that meets the scale of the challenge we face.”

Among the most significant remaining sources of emissions by the authority is electricity. As electricity use is cut and the authority stops using oil and gas, it plans to launch renewable energy systems such as air source heat pumps and solar panels.

Another key carbon cutting proposal for the coming five years include reducing the mileage driven by officers, volunteers and members, replacing the authority’s fleet of Land Rovers with hybrid or fully-electric models.

Mr Butterworth concludes: “The key to achieving these ambitious goals is as much to do with political will as it is resources. There are likely to be a number of organisations that pay lip service to the climate emergency and do little to effect meaningful change. We should not fall into that category, and clearly by our efforts thus far, we do not.

“All organisations, particularly public bodies, should be prepared to be judged on their deeds rather than their words. The judgement on our success or otherwise will be made by future generations. We should ensure they look favourably on our efforts.”