In May, Shropshire Council agreed to follow the lead of councils around the country and declare a climate emergency. But the council leader would not allow councillors to set a deadline for the council or the county becoming carbon neutral. The result was a declaration of a climate emergency without any sense of emergency.
A petition from Shewsbury Friends of the Earth published on the council website today calls on the council to achieve net carbon zero emissions from the council’s activities by 2030. It is vital that the council achieves carbon neutrality by 2030. That will contribute towards the future of the planet. It will also to show civic leadership towards employers and businesses across the county and encourage them to put future carbon neutrality at the core of their business plans.
I urge everyone to sign this petition. If it gains 1,000 signatures in the next few weeks, it will be debated in the council chamber on 12 December.
Around half of local councils have declared a climate emergency. But a survey by the Local Government Chronicle revealed that only 40% of local councils believe that declaring a climate emergency will lead to meaningful action (subscription). Many councils blame a lack of resources for not being able to tackle the climate emergency. In my view, it is a lack of imagination and commitment that is holding councils back, not resources.
That’s what we saw back in May, when Shropshire Council declared an emergency and parked it in the slow lane. Now the council has received a petition which reads:
We the undersigned petition the council to agree a target date of 2030 for achieving ‘net carbon zero’ emissions from the council’s activities, and to design an action plan in accordance with this target. We welcome the council’s declaration of a climate emergency and commitment to work towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions for the council’s activities and for the county. But time is short.
Time is short for this petition too. It must gain 1,000 signatures by 25 November to get a chance of being debated at Shropshire Council’s next meeting on 12 December. We need this matter debated and the council’s leaders held to account on their intransigence in setting a deadline for carbon neutrality.
The petition only relates to Shropshire Council’s carbon emissions. The council also has a significant role in guiding businesses and organisations in the county towards a zero carbon future.
There is much more to do before the climate emergency is treated as an emergency in our county. But this petition could be a useful trigger for earlier action by one of its biggest employers, Shropshire Council. I hope you will sign it.