Ludlow Town Council has tonight declared a Climate Emergency. It’s a good move. Now the hard work starts

Tonight, Ludlow Town Council joined more than one hundred other councils in declaring a climate emergency. This is great news. The council adopted a straightforward motion:

Ludlow Town Council declares a Climate Emergency, with an aim of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. It commits to identifying ways in which it can support this objective and to explore, with the community, the development of a Ludlow Town Council climate change strategy, and to consider establishing a Climate Action Partnership.

Now the hard work begins. The council will need a to review its policies and practice to meet this objective. Not all at once. But over the next few years it must buy power that is carbon neutral, use vehicles that are carbon neutral and promote polices that are carbon neutral. It must ensure that it promotes biodiversity wherever it has an influence and scrutinise planning applications for their impact on climate change.  

Ludlow made a great step forward tonight. I congratulate council members for so decisively declaring a climate emergency.  

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Shropshire Council declared a climate emergency on Thursday – but its leader would not agree to emergency action

On Thursday, Shropshire Council voted to declare a climate emergency. It was a good move and a late negotiated amendment got a deal on the table. But the Tories insisted that the “emergency” was taken out of “climate emergency” by removing all references to the target date of 2030. It was the best we could get through in the face of opposition from the Conservative leadership who refused to accept any deadlines for action. There will be opportunity for negotiating dates and a move from the council’s environmentally destructive business as usual approach over the next sixth months. I wish we could have got to that point on Thursday.

The final motion was drafted by me and revised in cross party talks minutes before the meeting began. It was approved unanimously. The Labour motion and Green amendment were defeated despite support from many Conservatives.

There was a huge public attendance, with well over one hundred people attending the public protest before the meeting. Many sat in an overflow room watching a livestream during a less than inspiring debate.

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Climate emergency – the motions debated at Shropshire Council

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:

  1. To declare a ‘Climate Emergency’.
  2. To support the work currently being undertaken by Shropshire Council in this field and reaffirm our support to tackling climate change.
  3. 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.
  4. Attach carbon emission appraisals to all policy reports.
  5. 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
  6. 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.

Alice the Dodo is going to the climate emergency protest at Shirehall on Thursday – are you?

The dodo was once a flightless bird. Now it is little more than a legend and the butt of jokes. That happened after western colonisation of Mauritius introduced predators, including humans who shot the helpless bird. Fast forward to 2019. A UN panel warns that we face a biodiversity crisis with a million species in threat of extinction. Last month, CO2 levels in the atmosphere reached a level not seen since humans existed. It is time to declare a climate emergency and Shropshire Council will do that on Thursday. My fear is that the council will adopt a motion that slaps itself on the back and declares business as usual. We need urgent action not token gestures.

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Climate emergency set to dominate Shropshire Council agenda next Thursday with three motions and one petition

The climate emergency features on Shropshire Council’s agenda on Thursday, 16 May. Not once, not twice or even three times. There is one public petition and three motions from political parties and independent councillors. This is unprecedented and I am not sure how the debate will be managed. It would be a good idea to move the motions from the end to the beginning of the meeting to be debated along with the petition. But it is sea change from the February council meeting, when the council speaker cruelly extinguished a public question on climate change over a technicality.

I am sure the council will get the hint that we need to declare a climate emergency. But this must be more than a token gesture to capture the current public mood. The council must bring forward its plans to become carbon neutral from a target of 2050 to 2030, if not sooner. And it needs to seriously rethink its plans for cuts to bus cuts and building an environmentally destructive North West Relief Road around Shrewsbury.

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