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.
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.
Shropshire Council held an unusually good-tempered meeting today in Shirehall. It was a lengthy session with more than four hours in the chamber (we had a break for mince pies and carols). As the meeting neared its end, councillors turned their attention to climate change. A cross-party motion proposed by Green Party councillor Julian Dean, and supported by me along with several other councillors, called for the council to increase its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
An amended version of the motion was passed unanimously. I am very pleased with this. It is important that all of us contribute to reducing carbon emissions for the sake of the generations that follow us.
Next Thursday’s Shropshire Council meeting is dominated by financial matters. But even though the council is struggling to make enough cuts to balance its budget, we can’t lose sight of longer-term issues like climate change. Shropshire Council is a major employer and has a major carbon footprint. But it rarely ever thinks about its role in reducing carbon emissions.
That’s why a cross-part groups of councillors have tabled a motion on climate change and the need for the council to act to reduce its impact on the environment.