Climate change emergency council urged to take further actions

North Yorkshire County Council is being pressured to increase its environmental commitments, just days after its leaders attempted to underline their support for further green actions by approving a policy U-turn to declare a climate emergency.

Liberal Democrat, Independent, Green and Liberal councillors have lodged two notices of motion to be considered at a meeting of the authority on Wednesday, which if approved would see the creation of a dedicated committee and executive member to oversee climate change and a biodiversity action plan.

While the declaration of a climate emergency has been widely viewed as an acknowledgement by the ruling Conservative group of its much reduced majority following the election in May, the latest proposals will further test the authority’s political balance.

In one of the motions, Green Party group coordinator Councillor Andy Brown and Independent group leader Councillor Stuart Parsons have called for the council to set up a committee of elected members to monitor its progress on climate and environmental action plans.

The councillors said the committee was necessary to “ensure that there is oversight of the overall achievement of the collective ambition for change”.

The Conservative-run authority has previously resisted calls to set up a specific climate change scrutiny committee with powers to make recommendations to the authority’s executive, saying tackling climate change was a shared responsibility across the authority.

The other proposal sees the Liberal Democrat and Liberal group welcome the previous administration’s ambition to set a net zero cabon plan for all its services by 2030 and the council’s decision to declare a climate change emergency and a call to recognise the county is also facing an ecological emergency.

It calls on the council to increase the areas of rich wildlife habitats, tree cover and accessible green space, ensure carbon reductions, biodiversity net gain and environmental enhancements in all developments across the county.

The motion states conserving and enhancing the natural environment plays a pivotal role in the county’s economy and residents wellbeing, providing wide-ranging benefits such as clean water and air, food, timber, carbon capture, flood protection and recreation.

It adds: “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

Ahead of the meeting, the authority’s leadership has sought to emphasise the gravity with which it is treating environmental concerns.

Executive member Councillor Greg White, whose responsibilities include climate change, said the authority had recognised that, although it is making progress, it still has more to do.

He said the authority’s data showed a downward trend in carbon emissions across all sectors, reflecting the council’s activities and investments to decarbonise its services and enable everyday low carbon choices for residents, businesses and visitors.

Coun White said: “Typical recent examples are the provision of plant based school meals, where our NYES catering service has won second place in the national Green School Menu League and the extensionto the pilot YorBus scheme testing innovative approach to public transport provision in rural
areas.”

5 Comments

  1. The problem with climate change, the unrecognised problem, is that the general population is not responding to oft repeated and increasingly strident warnings.

    And it is not just warnings; even the most striking examples of its impact today; the destruction of the rain forests, the melting of glaciers and ice caps, the bleaching of the great coral reef in Australia, forest fires, droughts, and floods, all these are having little impact on public opinion. But why is this happening ?

    One organisation has an answer, check out “Stop Selling the Desert”.

  2. This initiative is laudable but will achieve nothing to reduce global climate change until populous nations like China take appropriate action

  3. All of which goes to show that if you take the trouble to vote, you can bring about change, even if those you vote for don’t get a majority.
    Politicians stuck in the past rely on the young not bothering to vote.
    Everyone who voted for a sustainable future has helped bring about this small but important shift of emphasis.

  4. RDC has repeatedly ignored the climate change agenda particularly through its planning application management. Even it’s so called Green Councillor has failed to advocate a more stringent green approach to planning matters. For example allowing the cutting down of mature trees to facilitate so called ‘development’
    It is hoped the new authority will take on the electorate’s concerns and not just pay lip service to developers. After all, it is for the good of everyone’s long term future that important decisions are taken now. Developers should be aware of their responsibilities and if they refuse to comply then the authority should insist through stringent green nature requirements. Win win for all and the the money people make a bit less including the council, but more importantly, the environment retakes its essential place.

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