At a meeting of the full council on Thursday 25 July 2019, Warwickshire County Council (WCC) has unanimously declared a climate change emergency. The meeting took place on the day reported by the BBC as the hottest July day on record in the UK.
At the meeting the Council quoted the United Nations Improvement Panel on Climate Change’s findings on the environmental repercussions of failing to act, including rising sea levels, crop failures, extinction and global economic crisis.
As part of the emergency declaration, the county council has committed to establishing a cross party Climate Change Task and Finish Working Group which will report back to Cabinet with an action plan in six months.
Work will also go ahead, in collaboration with the District and Borough councils, to develop proposals for a carbon neutral action plan for WCC to be considered by Cabinet. As part of the move towards carbon neutrality, the county council will also review and update transport plans for each District and Borough Council to support them in building sustainable transport systems.
Councillor Heather Timms, WCC Portfolio Holder for Environment and Heritage & Culture, said: “In Warwickshire we are committed to tackling climate change, and to achieve that we need to have a properly costed plan, with targets for the short, medium and long term. In six months we will have that plan ready for us to consider, with dates and targets.
“But we should also recognise the good work that we have already done over the last five years, at a time of reducing budgets, to manage our impact on the environment. This includes achieving a 41% decrease in greenhouse gases from council property and transport, buying 100% renewable energy, making changes to our street lighting practice and developing a new flood risk management plan.”
Councillor Richard Chattaway, Leader of the Labour Group, said: “WCC recognised today, based on scientific evidence, that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing not only the residents of Warwickshire but of the UK and the world as a whole. Today we took the first steps in setting robust, realistic targets to protect the environment for our children’s future.”
Leader of the Green group Cllr Jonathan Chilvers said: “I am pleased that Warwickshire has declared that we face a climate emergency. We must now make sure we act like it’s an emergency. When the smoke alarm goes off we don’t want to be like the people who look at each other wondering whether it’s a real fire. Therefore I now look forward to drawing on the skills and experience of councillors from all parties to to set ambitious, but achievable goals for action in Warwickshire.”
On behalf of the Liberal Democrats group, Cllr Sarah Boad said: “The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that we have 12 years to make the necessary changes to limit a rise in global temperatures to 1.5 oC. I am pleased that the County Council has declared a climate emergency – it is crucial that there is a detailed action plan with dates and targets when the working party report back in 6 months time.”
To find out more about the council’s energy strategy, visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/energystrategyandpolicy