Agenda item

To consider the following motions of which due notice has been given in accordance with Paragraph 12.1 of the Council Procedure Rules:-

Motion to declare a Climate Emergency and commit to action to achieve carbon neutrality

Proposer: Cllr Dilys Cluer

Seconder: Cllr Mark Vesey

 

Minutes:

 

The Council considered the following motion which was proposed by Councillor Cluer and seconded by Councillor Vesey:

 

Motion to declare a Climate Emergency and commit to action to achieve carbon neutrality

Full Council notes:

  1. Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. Global temperatures have already increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial 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;
  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 their current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible;1
  3. Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm;
  4. Carbon emissions result from both production and consumption;
  5. Scarborough Borough Council has already shown foresight when it comes to addressing the issue of Climate Breakdown, having signed the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change, written an Environment Sustainability Policy and Action Plan, and having employed a Sustainability Officer and an Energy Manager for several years, leading to substantial improvements in energy use in our buildings.
  6. Unfortunately, our current plans and actions are not enough. The world is on track to overshoot the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit before 2050;2, 3
  7. The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in the autumn of 2018, 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 communities3;
  8. City Councils around the world are responding by declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committing resources to address this emergency.4

Full Council believes that:

  1. All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies. It is important for the residents of the Borough of Scarborough and the UK that local authorities commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible;
  2. The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority; and,
  3. Bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities (as well as improved well-being for people worldwide).

Full Council resolves to:

  1. Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’;
  2. Pledge to do everything within the Council's power to make the Borough of Scarborough carbon neutral by 2030.
  3. Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible;
  4. Work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5°C;
  5. Continue to work with partners across the borough and region to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans;
  6. Submit a bid as part of the Council’s budget setting process for an additional £80,000 to fund a ‘Sustainability’ Officer Post for a two year period to champion the scoping and delivery of the Borough Council’s Carbon Neutral 2030 commitment.

 

It is proposed that the additional cost is funded from the overachieved budget savings in 2019/20 currently held in the budget proposals as a contingency.

 

Additionally this Council calls on the Leader of the Council to write to North Yorkshire County Council urging them to recognise the climate emergency and take a lead, both in their own operations and in working with the Districts, to move as rapidly as possible to carbon neutrality.

 

It was agreed that Council Procedure Rules be suspended for this item to enable the motion to be debated.  Councillor Cluer introduced the motion, stressing the urgency of this issue, and noting that the Climate Emergency demanded action of all, from individuals up to international organisations.  In 2018 it was estimated that globally some 5,000 people died as a result of extreme weather events and some 29 million needed emergency assistance or humanitarian aid.  Councillor Cluer listed the consequences of inaction in the Borough of Scarborough including increased risks of flash flooding, crop failure, food shortages, coastal flooding and erosion.  She added that other local authorities had already declared a Climate Emergency and her motion provided the opportunity for this council to join them, to work with partners which already had good schemes and to initiate meaningful action in the Borough.  Crucially, the motion identified funding to employ a Sustainability Officer to help drive this forward, which could be approved through the forthcoming budget process.  She concluded that hitherto the challenge of climate change had not been tackled with sufficient resolve and this may be the last chance.  The Deputy Leader, Councillor Mallory expressed her full admiration for Councillor Cluer’s continued commitment to climate change issues and agreed with the motion in principle.  However, having discussed the motion with other Portfolio Holders, Councillor Mallory felt that a more effective outcome and better use of resources would be to tackle this global issue through a regional response, working with other agencies, and specifically North Yorkshire County Council and other district councils.  She added that the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board was keen to include the content of the motion as a future agenda item.  Therefore Councillor Mallory had asked the relevant Portfolio Holder to commence dialogue with the County Council before reporting back to Members.  Until reasonable feedback had been received and the Overview and Scrutiny Board had considered the full implications of the motion, Councillor Mallory recommended that the funding commitment be deferred.  She therefore proposed an amendment to the motion that ‘full Council resolves to ask the Overview and Scrutiny Board to consider the implications and issues arising from the motion with a view to reporting back to full Council in due course.’  Councillor Derek Bastiman seconded the amendment.  Other Members commented on the motion.  The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board supported the original motion, maintaining that the Council needed to commit the monies now, and that the joint work with the County Council and district councils should commence promptly, but that the implications and costs of the motion also needed to be examined carefully so a robust plan could be put in place.  Councillor Colling was happy for the Overview and Scrutiny Board to contribute towards the development of this plan, but after the elections in May.  Councillor Randerson highlighted the role of dual hatted Members of the Council in facilitating dialogue between the Borough and County Council in this regard, whilst Councillor Chance who served on the County Council’s Executive undertook to raise the motion with the County Council’s senior management.  Other councillors agreed that the urgency of the motion and the fact that the Council was already paying for the impacts of climate change, necessitated a funding commitment now, which would also send a clear signal to the Council’s partner agencies and local authorities.  The Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Housing, Councillor Chatt queried the impact of the appointment of a Sustainability Officer, when the Council’s environmental initiatives had continued without one over the previous 18 months, but noted the gravity of the situation and that the Council needed to work in partnership with other agencies and councils to rise to this challenge.  Councillor Cluer recognised the role of Overview and Scrutiny to do further work on this issue, but given the timing of the budget cycle, she felt it was critical that the Council committed the monies now for the next two years.  In response to a perceived lack of clarity about Councillor Mallory’s amendment, Councillor Mallory explained that she was recommending that Overview and Scrutiny be asked to consider the implications and issues arising from the motion with a view to reporting back to full Council in due course before a funding commitment was made, and that dialogue between the Borough and County Council commence immediately.  On being put to the vote, the amendment was lost.  The original motion was then put to the vote and was carried.

 

 

Supporting documents: