Durham Labour’s Climate change failure

Today apart from the budget we debated a motion on declaring a climate emergency.

Sadly the Labour group motion, put forward by Cllr Dunn changed the deadline for the council to become carbon neutral to 2050 from the 2030 being introduced across the Country by almost all other councils. Durham Labour have let down our county. Protesters at the end of the meeting made their feelings known very loudly.

I tabled an amendment to the motion seeking to change it to the 2030 target. Here’s what I said:

Councillor Dunn’s motion declares a climate emergency. The Inter governmental panel on Climate change whose figures amongst others have triggered councils up and down the country into bringing motions to their full council meetings sets 2030 as our deadline date.

I can only assume that somewhere in discussion with fellow councillors or officers of the council, the 2030 date was amended to 2050.

It does not need to be amended. It cannot be amended.

It’s like calling an ambulance for someone having a heart attack and when the ambulance arrives you say to the paramedics can you just wait for a few minutes whilst we have a chat about the weather.

The emergency deadline date is 2030 not 2050.

I have spoken with very senior officers and there is absolutely no reason for us amending the deadline to 2050. The motion includes a demand on government to help us with the funding needed to achieve this target – so financially there is no legitimate reason not to amend this motion to the 2030 target.

Almost every other council in the country which has adopted this motion or a variation on it has stuck with the 2030 target.

One, Leicester, as gone further and set a 2025-2030 target.

Why on earth should we as councillors be satisfied with potentially being 20 years behind everyone else.

County Durham doesn’t sit in some bubble unaffected by climate change. Our Co2 emissions don’t stay in Durham. We don’t have static Co2. We should be leading the way on this issue as we have done with plastics and in so many other areas.

This is an opportunity not a noose. The noose however will tighten around all of us from 2030 onwards if we don’t address the catastrophic climate change heading our way.

And when I say an opportunity I mean that – because apart from it being essential to tackle climate change, it will also save us money as we find new ways to do things, cut unnecessary consumption and make our part of the country a better place in which to work, to live and to visit.

We have a world heritage City, stunning countryside and wonderful communities. By being one of the first Councils to become carbon neutral we will be sending the message out to the world, that they are welcome here and we are a forward thinking environmentally sound place to do business and to visit.

I will not sit by and allow this council to delay something this important. My child has his third birthday next week. In 2030 he’ll be 14 years old and if this council isn’t at least carbon neutral by then every one of us will have failed him and every other child in this County.

Please support this amendment as the alternative is catastrophic and doesn’t bear thinking about.

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