Regional Government That Recently Declared a 'Climate Emergency' Prints 21 Million Pages Every Year

A regional authority in the U.K. that recently declared a "climate emergency" prints about 21 million pages every year—equivalent to an estimated 2,600 trees, according to reports.

New data showed that Cornwall Council—which governs a county on the southwestern tip of England—and its group of companies printed out around 1.7 million pages in June 2019 alone, the BBC reported.

The figures are featured in a 170-page report presented to a council committee as part of its "digital transformation" drive aimed at increasing the authority's use of technology.

The analysis indicated that not only is the printing using up large amounts of paper, but it was also costing local taxpayers around £280,000 ($345,000) every year.

Reducing the amount of printing that the council does by half would save around 1,300 trees annually.

Councilor Chris Martin from the Liberal Democrats—the fifth-largest party in the U.K. Parliament—said the council needed to step up efforts to reduce the use of paper, Cornwall Live reported.

"This is 2019, not 1920," Martin said. "Paper still has a use for reaching people who don't use computers, but the council's internal business should be 'digital by default.' Every councilor and every officer has a laptop, which they should bring to meetings rather than expecting to be handed a pile of papers when they walk into a room."

Martin added, "Don't even get me started on those who voted against allowing more council meetings to be attended via the internet."

Recent council meetings featured agendas stretching to hundreds of pages, which were printed off for both the public and councilors, Cornwall Live reported.

"Using this amount of paper is an example of the council not taking ownership of their own environmental impact," environmental campaigner Nichola Andersen, said. "They need to take radical action now—on average, 20 percent of this paper would have been used unnecessarily."

In January this year, the council declared a climate emergency, committing itself to reducing carbon emissions and working toward the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.

"It will not be easy; as the report makes clear, 2030 will be extremely challenging and may well prove impossible; but that does not mean that we should back away from the challenge or ambition to start this journey now, being passive and waiting for others," Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for climate change and neighborhoods, said at the time.

"If other parts of the world chose not to act, that is not a consideration that should define what we do. We are going to lead," she said.

Stock photo. A local authority is being urged to reduce its paper use. iStock