DORSET councillor Daryl Turner is calling for the county’s new unitary authority to take action in tackling climate change.
Councillor Turner – who was recently elected Lyme Regis and Charmouth’s first representative on the new Dorset Council – is asking the authority to declare a climate emergency that requires “immediate action”.
He has put forward a number of proposals to help tackle climate change, which he hopes will be considered by Dorset Council at the earliest opportunity.
These include asking Dorset Council to note:
- That the impacts of climate breakdown are already causing serious damage around the world.
- That the ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C’, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, (a) describes the enormous harm that a 2°C average rise in global temperatures is likely to cause compared with a 1.5°C rise, and (b) confirms that limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society and the private sector.
- Governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to act. Strong policies to cut emissions also have associated health, wellbeing and economic benefits; and that recognising this, a growing number of UK local authorities have already passed ‘Climate Emergency’ motions.
Councillor Turner has therefore asked Dorset Council to commit to:
- Declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ that requires urgent action
- Make the council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2040 or earlier
- Achieve 100% clean energy across the council’s full range of functions by 2040 or earlier
- Ensure that all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to zero carbon by 2040 or earlier
- Support and work with all other relevant agencies towards making the entire area zero carbon within the same timescale
- Ensure that political and chief officer leadership teams embed this work in all areas and take responsibility for reducing, as rapidly as possible, the carbon emissions resulting from the council’s activities, ensuring that any recommendations are fully costed and that the Executive and Scrutiny functions review council activities taking account of production and consumption emissions and produce an action plan within 12 months, together with budget actions and a measured baseline
- Dorset Council Scrutiny Panels will consider the impact of climate change and the environment when reviewing council policies and strategies
- Work with, influence and inspire partners across the district, county and region to help deliver this goal through all relevant strategies, plans and shared resources by developing a series of meetings, events and partner workshops
- Dorset Council and partners take steps to proactively include young people in the process, ensuring that they have a voice in shaping the future
- Report on the level of investment in the fossil fuel industry that our pensions plan and other investments have, and review the council’s investment strategy to give due consideration to climate change impacts in the investment portfolio
- Ensure that all reports in preparation for the 2020/21 budget cycle and investment strategy will take into account the actions the council will be required to take to address this emergency
- Call on the UK government to provide the powers, resources and help with funding to make this possible, and ask local MPs to do likewise
- Consider other actions that could be implemented, including (but not restricted to): renewable energy generation and storage; providing electric vehicle infrastructure and encouraging alternatives to private car use; increasing the efficiency of buildings, in particular to address fuel poverty; proactively using local planning powers to accelerate the delivery of net carbon new developments and communities; co-ordinating a series of information and training events to raise awareness and share good practice
Call for faster action
While Councillor Turner’s interest in tackling climate change was initially welcomed by campaigners, some have expressed concerns that action is not being taken quickly enough.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as mentioned in Councillor Turner’s proposals, has warned that we have 12 years to limit the effects of climate change.
Tracey West, CEO of Lyme Regis-based reforestation charity The Word Forest, has urged Councillor Turner to revise the “entirely useless” dates mentioned in his proposals immediately and take faster action against this “existential crisis”.
Commenting on Councillor Turner’s proposals she added: “There is a distinct lack of urgency about your declaration of urgency.”
Councillor Turner suggested that earlier dates for CO2 reductions could also be timetabled, such as a 30% reduction by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 85% by 2035.
He commented: “It is the last few per cent that are hardest to eradicate from the system. Having some closer dates will concentrate minds – saying 30% by 2025 will really focus the thinking, and be something that can soon be testable.”
Councillor Turner added that this was the “starting point” of a debate and he was happy to receive constructive comments.