Wiltshire Council, a Unitary Authority, declared a Climate Emergency yesterday after more than an hour of debate The Executive had initially turned down the proposition of going carbon neutral by 2030, but the motion was eventually passed by 36 to 32 with lots of abstentions. The campaign was led by the Lib Dems who have 20 seats on the Council, compared to the Conservatives 68. This outcome shows clearly the importance of having a number of members of the public give passionate, supportive speeches at the Council meeting, as well as the public gallery being packed. There was a lot of pre meeting lobbying too with members of Transcoco in attendance
Motion proposed by Cllr. Brian Mathew (Lib Dem) and Cllr. Gavin Grant (Lib Dem)
Full Council notes:
1. Humans have already caused serious climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. Global temperatures have already increased by 1 degree Celsius from preindustrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm). This far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity and will continue to rise if no action is taken.
2. In order to reduce the chance of runaway Global Warming and limit the effects of Climate Breakdown, it is imperative that we as a species reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from the current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes by 2030.
3. Individuals can accept responsibility for living in a more sustainable way, but cannot be expected to make all these reductions on their own. Greenhouse gas emissions primarily result from burning of fossil fuels, incineration of the products of fossil fuels (waste plastics),
unsustainable agricultural practices and the production of cement. Thus, governments at all levels: national, regional and local, must change legislation, standards, infrastructure and their approach, to meet the need to reduce CO2 eq emissions and thus make low carbon living easier to achieve and the new norm, while protecting the most vulnerable in society from poverty.
4. The County of Wiltshire is already at the fore in the field of solar electricity generation, where it has the highest UK local authority area level of photovoltaic (PV) capacity at 581.1MW, the second highest number of installations 9193 (large and small), and the second highest actual
generation of solar electricity 530,719MW(h) per annum. Wiltshire Council has installed 5 rapid electric vehicle (ev) charging points with a further set of fast charging points being installed at 15 Wiltshire Council car parks and it operates a fleet of 3 fully electric vehicles and 10 with ultra-low
emissions, it has become largely paper free with its adoption of lap top computers for all councillors and staff. It has also reduced carbon consumption by consolidating its offices into fewer more energy efficient buildings, as well as increasing the ‘roll out’ of LED street lighting and
within its offices.
5. Unfortunately, current global plans and actions are not enough. The world is on track to overshoot the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit well before 2050, with potentially catastrophic consequences for life on Earth.
6. The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018, concludes that we have less than twelve years to act to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It also describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely
to cause compared to a 1.5°C rise and told us that limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible, with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities. However, on our current trajectory we are
heading for at least a 3°C rise.
7. Local Authorities around the world are responding by declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committing resources to address this emergency8 with over twenty Local Authorities signing up to a climate emergency in the UK alone over the past few months since the IPCC announcement