Last night Waverley’s new Cross-Party Executive took one giant leap towards ensuring that our borough recognises the Climate Emergency and threat of global warming that we all face.
The Portfolio Holder for the Environment (Green Party) Cllr Steve Williams hammered home the need for Waverley Council to work with its colleagues in the towns and parishes together with every resident to take the urgent steps required to avert a global catastrophe.
He painted a grim picture of the climate emergency we all face if we do not become carbon-neutral council by 2030. With parts of the planet “burning-up.” He proposed a motion that would bring the borough of Waverley in line with councils the length and breadth of the country in taking the issue seriously. Saying:
“There has never been a more important time to think globally and act locally,”
You can hear Cllr Williams statement below:
Elstead Cllr Jenny Else (Con) asked what steps the new executive (In post for just 4 months) had already taken to meet its “ambition” to become carbon neutral by 2030, and how it intended to engage with, and persuade, town and parish councils to sign up to the initiative – “have you started yet,” she asked?
Deputy Leader Paul Follows leapt in to explain that in some areas the borough council was “ following the towns and parishes not leading them” Godalming, Farnham, and Haslemere had already begun putting plans in place. He stressed the importance of the Full Council’s backing for the Declaration before them, which would then, with member and officer support become an Action Plan – “after all you cannot put the cart before the horse. You cannot state your course of action until you have a baseline”
Cllr Julia Potts – said a clear message must be given that Waverley Borough Council’s contribution to climate change was much smaller than its residents, who has to be on board with whatever future steps are taken?
Council Leader Farnham Residents’ John Ward accepted this saying – We are not asking residents to do this – we are leading by example.”
The recommendation that was AGREED UNANIMOUSLY.
1.That the Executive notes that:
- i) the continuing rise in greenhouse gases, if not addressed, represents an existential threat to our civilisation on this planet.
- ii) the impacts of climate breakdown are already causing serious damage around the world.
- iii) the recent 2018 IPCC report stated that we had just 12 years to act on climate change if global temperature rises are to be kept within the recommended 1.5 degrees Celsius; this assumes we reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050 from the current 40+ billion tonnes.
- iv) such a reduction will require (in the words of the IPCC)“rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems. These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options”.
- v) all governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to act, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies.
- vi) strong policies to cut emissions also have associated health, wellbeing and economic benefits.
- vii) central government has committed to a zero-carbon national target and has adopted a policy whereby sales of petrol and diesel engine cars and vans, one of the main causes of emissions resulting in climate change, are to be totally phased out.
- viii) a growing number of UK local authorities have already
passed ‘Climate Emergency’ motions in recognition of the urgency of the climate crisis.
ix) Waverley Borough Council and other local authorities working to ambitious targets for achieving net-zero carbon emissions will require additional urgent support from central government in order to achieve their goals.
2.That the Executive recommends to Council that:
- i) Waverley Borough Council declares a ‘Climate Emergency’ requiring urgent action.
- ii) Waverley Borough Council aims to become carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions, and takes a leadership role to achieve this working with other councils, including town and parish councils within the borough.
- iii) Waverley Borough Council recognises that the achievement of the target will require central government to provide the powers, funding and other resources to achieve the target and therefore calls on the government to provide such powers, funding, and other resources as appropriate to facilitate achieving the 2030 target.
- iv) Officers be instructed to provide to the Council’s Executive, within six months of the date of this decision, a report on the actions the Council and the local community can take to address these issues together with an action plan, specifying year on year milestones and metrics to show progress towards achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 noting any additional costs that might be involved.