We always knew the opposition motions would be defeated, even though they got support from several Conservatives. The focus was therefore on strengthening the Conservative motion through a cross party amendment. In a second article today, I will report on the meeting itself. This article publishes the two amendments and one motion that were discussed in the council chamber.
Amendment to Motion 4 from the Lib Dem Group
This amendment to the original Tory motion was accepted unanimously.
Recognising that there are three motions and one public petition, we seek to amend Motion 4 to ensure that the council treats climate change as an emergency and accelerates its actions. The council cannot act alone. It must work with citizens, businesses, the wider public sector and national government to accelerate action on climate change. This Council believes that Climate Change presents a serious threat to humanity with the potential impacts on weather systems and biodiversity being catastrophic if allowed to continue to increase unchecked. Urgent action is needed to prioritise the climate emergency that we face.
Local authorities have an important role to play in encouraging behaviour changes that will help to reduce emissions both locally and further afield. It can ensure its policies encourage a rapid transition to carbon zero or net zero in all sectors that support the economy and people of Shropshire, including decisions on planning and economic development.
We have responsibility for our own emissions as an organisation, A Corporate Carbon Reduction Strategy is being developed, a cross-party Task & Finish Group on Climate Change has been established by the Place Overview & Scrutiny Committee and an officer Working Group has been set up to drive forward our strategy for the whole county. It is planned to introduce an officer position to coordinate the Council’s response to Climate Change and the sustainability agenda. This is welcomed by the Council.
We recognise the role that local authorities must play in informing and influencing national Government policy.
Therefore, this Council resolves to:
- To declare a ‘Climate Emergency’.
- To support the work currently being undertaken by Shropshire Council in this field and reaffirm our support to tackling climate change.
- To ask the Leader to write to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to encourage Government to be ambitious in its plans for carbon reduction targets, aiming for carbon neutrality.
- Attach carbon emission appraisals to all policy reports.
- Create a Climate Action Partnership of stakeholders and the wider community, to partner with the Council to provide advice, support and encouragement to public, business and charitable organisations to adopt similar policies and practices across the county. This is to be taken and considered by the appropriate Task and Finish Group
- To review its progress on addressing the climate emergency annually, with a view of setting an ambition target for Shropshire Council to be carbon neutral.
The changes to Motion 4 are in bold.
Amendment from Julian Dean, Green Party
Again, this was an amendment to the Conservative Motion 4. It was narrowly defeated with opposition, independent and several Conservatives voting for it.
Add to ‘Therefore this Council resolves to:’ new points as below
To ask the relevant portfolio holder to bring forward to Council, by December 2019, details of a new Corporate Climate Change Strategy for approval, with target dates for achieving both 50% reductions in carbon emissions, and then achieving or exceeding ‘Carbon Zero’ in Council controlled operations, under Scope 1 and Scope 2 (from the internationally recognised Greenhouse gas protocols).
To require the relevant portfolio holder to bring forward planning policies, either by way of amendments to the Core Strategy, or in the form of Supplementary Planning Documents, that will ensure housing and employment site development is ‘Carbon Zero’, or Carbon Zero ready for switching over from fossil fuel heating systems. Such policies will need to form part of the submission for inspection of the Local Plan Review in 2020.
To require the relevant portfolio holder, in consultation with the task and finish group, to bring forward an action plan by the end of the council year for i. the implementation, monitoring and – if required – further development of the Corporate Climate Change Strategy (including Scope 3 emissions); and ii. For working towards a Zero Carbon county, in collaboration with the Marches LEP, private and third sector organisations, housing associations, private landlords and the wider community.
The Labour Motion
A recorded vote was taken on the Labour motion, which was defeated. In favour: 23. Against: 37.
That this Council welcomes the setting up of a task and finish group to examine the Council’s response to Climate Change following the motion adopted by Council on 13th December and we also affirm our commitment to:
- Carbon Emission Appraisals being attached to all reports,
- The designation of a Director level Carbon Champion,
- The creation of a Climate Action Partnership of stakeholders and the wider community.
However, given the conclusions of the IPCC and more recent scientific research findings we believe that Shropshire Council should be more active in its role in providing local leadership and as an organisation meeting rigorous carbon reductions targets.
Therefore, this Council declares that there is a Climate Emergency and calls upon the Cabinet to bring forward proposals within the current calendar year to ensure that all operations within the Councils control are Carbon Neutral by 2030.
Furthermore, we resolve to provide advice, support and encouragement, however possible, to county-wide public, business and charitable organisations to adopt similar policies and practices.