A motion I proposed to declare a climate emergency was unanimously agreed on 21st February 2019 by the Shadow Full Council for Somerset West and Taunton, which will soon take over as our new district authority.
The motion noted the stark scientific warnings on the growing impacts and risks from global warming to our environment, economy and social systems.
Work will start towards making Somerset West and Taunton carbon neutral by 2030. A cross party working group will work with council officers to develop a Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Plan. A small provisional budget has been established and costed proposals will be prepared for a range of projects, which could include:
- Enabling more cycling, walking and use of shared and public transport.
- Providing electric car charging points in car parks and other suitable locations.
- Adopting high energy efficiency standards for new buildings.
- Developing a programme to retrofit energy saving and insulation in council buildings, including housing.
- Promoting waste reduction, reuse and recycling on the go.
- The Council using electricity generated from renewable energy.
- Supporting green businesses, social enterprises and investment in local renewable energy and infrastructure, as well as divestment from fossil fuels.
- Adapting for flooding, coastal erosion and other impacts of climate change.
The leader of the Council said funding would be provided for new projects, but committed councillors will be needed to push it all forward.
The Government will be asked to provide guidance, the powers and resources. The motion noted that individuals cannot make the reductions necessary on their own. Society needs to change its infrastructure, incentives, regulations and taxation to make low carbon living easier and a common social norm.
Already, average global temperatures have increased by 1°C. Scientists and the United Nations say we need to do all we can to limit the increase to no more than 1.5°C. Current projections will take us past this to 3°C of global warming and more.
We need to do all we can to prevent this. Some good progress has been made, but we need to do much more. Declaring a climate emergency, backed by action, is a start.
The motion (see full text) was seconded by Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts and had cross-party support from seven other Councillors for the new Shadow Authority.
Sign the petition here to call on Parliament to declare a climate emergency.