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Lib Dems on Teignbridge Council slam government for missed opportunity to address climate change in Census

January 19, 2021 12:48 PM

Den Brook Windfarm, DevonLib Dems who lead Teignbridge District Council have today slammed the Government for a huge 'missed opportunity' to ask key questions in the 2021 census to help the nation combat global warming and invest in new energy saving projects.

The national census will take place on 21st March 2021 - just nine weeks away and includes just one question related to climate change - which asks what type of central heating respondents use. The comment from Lib Dem led Teignbridge District Council comes after councillors heard about the Census arrangements at their meeting on Thursday (14th January 2021).

Cllr Alan Connett, Leader of Teignbridge District Council, said:

"The Census happens once every 10 years and apart from the Coronavirus pandemic, the single biggest long-term threat to the planet is global warming. Tackling climate change and saving the planet needs to be a national priority.

"Many of us were surprised to learn from the presentation councillors received that there are no real questions linked to global warming and what residents may be doing or willing to do to help tackle this issue."

This year's Census has been adapted and changed from the last one which took place in 2011. The Office for National Statistics, which is responsible for Census 2021, says on its website 'Census 2021 will have new questions which are more relevant to the society we live in today'.

For the first time we will be asking people aged 16 years and over a question on sexual orientation. There is also a new question on whether people have ever served in the British armed forces.

Dr Andy Swain, Lib Dem councillor for Kenn Valley, asked if the new census would include questions relating to carbon footprints to guide us on the journey to net zero emissions:

"When working to address global warming it is a constant problem to get hold of good quality data. National data sets are available but not broken down into very small regions. We can survey people or households, but getting data for a parish or other small community is very difficult. It is too small for datasets, and too big for surveys.

"Some simple questions in the census about energy use, travel, and purchasing could have given very valuable information to calibrate and refine the data we have. Without good quality data it is impossible to know where improvements need to be made, or how close to net zero emissions we are. This is a huge missed opportunity."

Liza Oxford, Census Engagement Manager for the Teignbridge area, dealt with a range of questions from councillors about the Census and promised to feedback the comments and concern about the missed opportunity to include questions on climate change to the Census organisers