SBC Councillors Report June 2021
Published: 21 June 2021
We are living at a tipping point. Evidence of the climate emergency is all around us, and the time to take effective action is fast running out. Yet the Government still plans to spend £27 billion on new roads; expand UK aviation, including a new runway at Heathrow, open a new coal mine, and build 300,000 houses a year, many on greenfield sites, to inadequate energy-efficiency standards.
Last December the Prime Minister announced a new target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030 and a 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. But the strategy for delivery lacks detail. On June 14th Tom Danker, boss of the Confederation of British Industry said: “The world has no room for failure. The climate crisis is worsening. And currently, we are way off track.” He spoke of the urgency of “filling in the blanks of the government’s outline – to take us from climate ambition to climate action as rapidly as possible.” Just two days later the Committee on Climate Change reported that the UK is unprepared for the consequences of climate change and in a worse position than it was five years ago.
With genuine cross-party support, Swale Borough Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in 2019. The aim is to make council operations net zero by 2025 and the borough net zero by 2030. The council has drawn up an action plan and progress is monitored by regular steering group meetings. However, as a borough council Swale lacks the powers and the budget to do all that is necessary; for example, to retrofit all the houses that need to be brought up to adequate energy efficiency standards, or to run efficient, low-carbon public transport. That is why the council’s declaration included the resolution to “call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible”
At the June meeting of Swale Borough Council we (Tim Valentine and Alastair Gould) will be asking members to express their support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which has been presented to the House of Commons. The bill would require that the UK Government develop an emergency strategy for the UK to play its fair and proper role to reduce carbon emissions, consistent with at least a two thirds chance of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is the ambition of the Paris agreement. It also calls on the government to address the ecological crisis by taking action to restore wildlife populations and ecosystems.
The actions required by a sufficiently detailed and resourced strategy will create thousands of jobs across many sectors just at a time when more people are expected to become unemployed as furlough ends. Much of what needs to be done will improve people’s health and make our towns and villages better places to live.
We must seize the opportunity to build back greener.
Alastair Gould (AlastairGould@swale.gov.uk)
Tim Valentine (TimValentine@swale.gov.uk)
Swale Borough Councillors for Boughton & Courtenay.