Green councillors declare “climate emergency” at Suffolk County Council

18 March 2019

The Lib Dem, Green and Independent Group at Suffolk County Council have submitted a motion declaring a “climate emergency” and calling on the council to take urgent action to minimise its carbon emissions.

The motion, which will be debated on 21 March, asks the County Council to declare a climate emergency, investigate ways to cut Suffolk County Council’s carbon and harmful emissions on a spend-to-save basis, and pledge to make Suffolk County Council and the county of Suffolk carbon neutral by 2030.

Cllr Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, who proposed the motion, commented:

“There can be no doubt that climate change is the biggest issue of our time, yet leaders at Suffolk County Council have to date shown no real awareness or understanding of the severe climate emergency that we are facing.

“It’s really telling that the people showing true leadership on this issue are some of the youngest in our society. Schoolchildren and students, the generation of tomorrow, have demonstrated just how concerned they are by the impacts of climate change and how damaging it will be for their future. That should be a wake-up call for politicians everywhere, of all colours. It certainly was for me. It should remind us of our responsibility to protect the lives and livelihoods of people in Suffolk, which are at huge risk if climate change continues at the current rate.

“This is an opportunity to acknowledge the risks we face, plan properly for our future, and take positive steps to ensure Suffolk continues to flourish. It’s not too late to take action, but it has to be done now.”

Cllr Robert Lindsay, seconder of the motion, added:

“I hope the Conservative administration seizes this opportunity to show that they actually want to live up to their ambition of being the ‘Greenest County’, plan ahead positively for new renewable income streams, and take some leadership on the issue.”

 

The full motion reads:

Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority.

The IPCC’s “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C” told us that limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national authorities, civil society, the private sector and local communities (1). It is imperative that we as a species reduce our carbon equivalent emissions from the current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible (2). 

Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of climate breakdown, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies. It is important for the residents of Suffolk and the UK that councils commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible.

Councils in the UK are responding with practical action which is saving money, generating income and reducing carbon. For example, Warrington Borough Council has just announced a plan to invest £64m into its own solar and energy storage in order to generate £130m over 30 years in revenue and to save up to £2m on its energy bills (3). West Sussex County Council has committed to an energy strategy and a series of four-year action plans to reduce carbon and maximise renewable energy and revenue it generates from solar farms and stores in batteries (4). 

Suffolk has the ambition to be the “Greenest County”. It is therefore imperative that Suffolk County Council leads the way on this issue. 

Therefore, this Council resolves to:

  1. Declare a climate emergency.
  2. Set up a cross-party body within two months of this meeting, to investigate ways to cut Suffolk County Council’s carbon and harmful emissions on a spend to save basis, with the ambition to make Suffolk County Council (including all buildings, schools, services and companies associated with the county council) carbon neutral by 2030. The cross-party group will report to Cabinet within six months of being set up with the actions the council will take.
  3. Pledge to work towards making the county of Suffolk carbon neutral by 2030, by working with partners across the county and region, including the LEP and the Public Sector Leaders, to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans.
  4. Call on Westminster to increase the powers and resources to make the 2030 target easier to achieve.

 

References:

(1) The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

(2) Fossil CO2 & GHG emissions of all world countries, 2017: http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2andGHG1970-2016&dst=GHGpc

(3) https://www.warrington.gov.uk/news/article/2709/warrington-leads-the-way-on-day-scientists-issue-final-warning-on-climate-change






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