North Yorkshire coalition calls for more rapid climate change action

A coalition of North Yorkshire environmental groups has written an open letter to the county’s several hundred elected representatives calling for more rapid and ambitious action to cut emissions in the wake of a UN report detailing the impacts of climate change.

The 11 groups representing groups from Stokesley to Clapham have issued the plea to district and county councillors and MPs for extra regional and national measures following what they describe as “harrowing and sobering” findings in the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

The document concludes around 40 per cent of the world’s population is “highly vulnerable” to the impacts of climate change, a greater proportion than had previously been feared.

Other key findings of the report include that the use of some technologies designed to limit warming or reduce CO2 could make matters worse rather than better and that cities offer chances to avert the worst impacts of warming, which can be avoided if action is taken this decade.

The bodies behind the open letter include Thirsk Friends of the Earth, Ryedale Environmental Group, Thirsk Churches Ecology Group, CPRE North and East Yorkshire, Zero Carbon Harrogate, Climate Action Stokesley and Villages, Richmondshire Climate Action Partnership, Nidderdale Climate and Environment Group, Climate Action Northallerton, Clapham Sustainability Group and Brandsby Women’s Institute.

The letter follows campaigners and some local politicians expressing frustration over the pace of change at local government level.

Last month Independent Richmondshire councillor Leslie Rowe resigned from the authority’s Climate Change Working Group “in disgust” over what he claimed to be no measurable carbon footprint improvements since it declared a climate emergency in 2019.

The letter warns any further delay in global action to slow climate change and adapt to its impacts “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”.

It goes on to state the gap between UK climate change targets and delivery needs addressing with “concrete actions”, such as a nationwide domestic energy-efficiency programme.

The letter states: “In our own region of North Yorkshire, we urge district and county councillors to offer political and financial backing for the ambitious proposals set out in the draft Roadmap to Carbon Negative prepared by the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

“The report contains many excellent proposals that – with your support – would put North Yorkshire on track towards a clean, green and high-skills economy powered by renewables.

“Please note that we also plan to publish this response by North Yorkshire environmental and community groups to the IPCC report as an open letter in the press later this week.”

North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said the council had committed to responding rapidly to climate change, but it came with a cost and its finance were not unlimited.

He said: “People are right to draw attention to climate change and I fully accept that the impact is already here. We are doing hat we can and maybe we need to do more.

“Councillors will be faced with choices, and with the Ukraine crisis there is also going to have to be choices over energy security as well as energy type. However, I would be very happy to offer full political support to the local enterprise partnership’s Roadmap to Carbon Negative.”