Warwick District Council has officially declared a climate- change emergency – and has set itself the ambitious target to be carbon-neutral by 2025.
At a meeting on Wednesday night, Labour’s motion to declare the emergency and the Green Party’s ten-point plan (which we revealed two weeks ago) were both passed by councillors in a show of cross-party support.
The new Council Leader, Cllr Andrew Day, had previously told the Courier and Weekly News that his Conservative Party would look to bring in greener policies.
Cllr Will Roberts, who put forward the Green’s original ten-point motion, welcomed the agreement, adding: “This is an excellent first step for the council. Importantly, this climate-emergency motion includes a clear commitment to be a carbon-neutral organisation by 2025 including its contracts.
We’d have liked to have seen specific commitments on carbon-neutral housing and reducing traffic emissions and will push hard for investment and policy change in the future.
“Thank you to all those from other parties who have engaged with us to reach agreement. It wasn’t always easy but we got there! A huge thank you to everyone who signed the petition to keep the pressure on.
“I now hope that this will provide a foundation for us to work together to turn words into the urgent action we need to tackle the Climate Crisis that will affect the way we all live our lives.”
The Labour Party said it was delighted that all parties worked together to pass its motion for the council to declare a climate emergency, adding that residents, businesses, other councils and many stakeholders need to bring ‘forward positive actions to halt the ticking time bomb and crisis of climate change’.
During the meeting, Labour Group Leader Cllr Geraldine Cullinan said: “Making our environment healthier is a priority and working collaboratively as a group with the commitment from other parties to join our mission, is something we welcome.”
Labour’s Cllr Jerry Weber said: “I was particularly impressed by our young speaker, Thea Mort. It is the future of our young citizens that makes this motion so important.
There is no doubt that starting the process of solving climate change is an enormous challenge.
At Warwick District Council, with our partners on the county council and in collaboration with business and community groups and residents, we can achieve real change.
I am particularly keen that we create a youth forum to help drive the debate and ensure that those of us who make decisions on behalf of the community are listening to the whole community.”
After the meeting, deputy Labour Group leader Cllr Jonathan Nicholls said: “In the spirit of working cross-party and open communications, it’s imperative that we all work together to tackle this pressing issue and do our very best to take immediate steps to make the environment healthier for the residents of Warwick District.
“It is great that Warwick District Council is the first council to be invited to take part in the internationally- recognised scheme UN Programme One Carbon World to help this council to achieve carbon-neutral status.”
Speaking on behalf of the Conservatives, Cllr Alan Rhead, who has been handed the new portfolio for environment and business for Warwick District Council, told the meeting: “We are happy to support this amendment and thus the amended motion.
I think it is important that this council is united on this important topic and it is why the leader created this new portfolio of environment and business.”
He listed a number of measures that the council has already taken in terms of house-building and transport.
He then went on to point out what the council had already been planning, which included a bike-hiring scheme called ‘Warwick Wheels’ which will be similar to that implemented in London, and park-and- ride schemes including the use of electric buses, electric vehicles; with more charge-electric points.
Cllr Rhead added: “Since 2010 the council has reduced its CO2 emissions from council buildings by 16 per cent and plans are afoot to substantially improve those reductions.
“We must keep our feet on the ground. We must first ensure that the infrastructure is in place so that a lot of our plans come to fruition. This will mean considerable cooperation from other outside bodies and we are having conversations with them.”