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.
The motion has been proposed by Shropshire Council’s Green Party councillor, Julian Dean and seconded by myself. All motions must be signed by at least four members and Harry Taylor (Labour) and Nat Green (Lib Dem) have also signed the motion.
The motion follows the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that warned we are heading for a catastrophic three degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures.
Speaking at the world climate change conference in Katowice, Sir David Attenborough warned that civilisation could collapse if we don’t bring global warming under control. It is an apocalyptic vision. We are already experiencing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, diminishing Arctic sea ice and loss of coral reefs. The IPCC warned limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid and far-reaching changes in the way we use land and energy, and run industry, buildings, transport, and cities.
The level of societal change required is daunting and everyone and every organisation must play a part. That’s why we want a stronger focus on climate in council policies. We must go further than just sticking solar panels on a few council roofs.
Our motion calls for the council to appoint a carbon champion drive reduction in carbon emissions. A task and finish group would recommend actions and challenging targets across all the council’s activities. Council policy papers already include risk assessments, which sometimes mention environmental impacts. We want these expanded to include carbon emission appraisals. We also want the council to take the lead on establishing local climate action partnership to draw in support from business, the wider public sector, the voluntary sector and the wider community.
Motion proposed by Councillor Julian Dean and supported by Councillors Harry Taylor, Nat Green and Andy Boddington
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently made clear the scale of the emergency facing us all. It is clear that current action to reduce emissions is inadequate both globally and in the UK, and if unchecked will result in a catastrophic three degrees of global warming.
The UK Government is yet to put forward plans for partnerships with local councils to achieve the Paris climate goals, although emissions reduction efforts at the local level could help the UK government achieve and exceed its existing National Determined Contribution.
In the lieu of a central government lead this Council agrees to:
- Require all report risk assessments to include Carbon Emission Appraisals, including presenting alternative approaches which reduce emissions wherever possible.
- Establish a Task and Finish Group of members, to run for a full year, with the remit to recommend actions and challenging targets across the Council’s activities.
- Task a director-level ‘Carbon Champion’ officer with responsibility for promoting the reduction, as rapidly as possible, of carbon emissions resulting from the Council’s activities.
- Produce and publish our own Climate Action Plan in order to facilitate the most rapid emissions cuts possible.
- Establish a local Climate Action Partnership to draw in support from business, the wider public sector, the voluntary sector and the wider community.
. Conservatives are not allowed by their whips to sign opposition-led motions.