The United Nation’s Panel on Climate Change has recently said that we have 12 years to make the necessary changes to limit a rise in global temperatures to 1.5c (1) In response, a group of local people have come together to form the Kirklees Climate Emergency campaign. Rallies in December and January have called upon Kirklees Council to pass a motion declaring a Climate Emergency and agree concrete measures to reduce emissions that are causing rapid climate change as a matter of urgency.
The Kirklees Climate Emergency campaign is delighted that the Council has listened to these calls and that the following motion was approved by Kirklees Council at meeting on 16 January 2019:
A CLIMATE EMERGENCY IN KIRKLEES – MOTION
This Council notes
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warning that we have 12 years to make the necessary changes to limit a rise in global temperatures to 1.5c (1). Failure to act will see a marked increase in sea levels and flooding, extreme and abrupt changes to weather patterns, crop failures, extinctions of plant, insect and animal species and global economic disruption and crisis. This will detrimentally impact on the well-being of the people of Kirklees and billions of people around the world.
At the Global Climate Talks in Poland last December the UK along with over 200 nations agreed action on Climate Change with a much greater role strongly implied for Local and Regional Authorities like Kirklees in assisting Governments achieve their carbon emission savings.
In the words of Sir David Attenborough:
“Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out.’
We therefore resolve to:
1. Declare a Climate Emergency and publicise this to the people of Kirklees to raise awareness, and support the public to take effective action.
2. Request Cabinet initiate a full Environmental Audit of Kirklees Council to measure its carbon footprint, identify hotspots and work toward being carbon neutral in line with the latest targets set and agreed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; with Cabinet to report to the first meeting of the working party, referred to at 4 below on the scope of the environmental audit
3. Significantly improve our recycling rate to reach the target of 55% by 2025, and ask that the Cabinet implement a range of short term measures to improve recycling rates, in advance of a full review of the waste collection and disposal service.
4. To set up a Councillor Working Party including the appropriate Cabinet Lead with a remit to:
a) Commission and oversee the Environmental Audit
b) Consult expert opinion in the field, as appropriate
c) Identify practical measures to reduce emissions and the Council’s carbon footprint
d) Encourage action in the wider community, businesses and other key organisations e.g. NHS and Educational Institutions
e) Report to Full Council within six months with an action plan to address the Emergency and incorporating proposals on the investment implications of this proposed activity
5. The Council to consider Environmental Impact as part of any new policy
6. The Council to seek to collaborate with other Local and Regional Authorities on emission reduction projects as appropriate. The Leader of the Council to write to the Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry requesting that national policy is urgently developed to reflect the seriousness of the current emergency and to release funds to local authorities that would allow them to take the necessary measures at local level.
The motion was supported by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor, and leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent groups.
Labour Party Councillor Richard Murgatroyd, who proposed the motion said:
“We really welcome the leadership shown by Cllr Pandor and the Council administration in supporting this motion. It’s great that other party groups have got behind it as well. Climate change is already happening, and the UN has estimated that we have just twelve years to put in place policies that will limit the worst effects. This motion is making an important point – it is not too late if we act now. We owe this to our children”.
Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper who was a delegate at the recent UN Climate Talks in Poland said,
“Declaring a climate emergency is an important first step. The next job is to develop policies and programmes that not only reduce carbon emissions but also improve air quality and save the Council money as well. We don’t want to just save the world but also make a better world”