Torbay Lib Dems Call on Council to Declare Climate Emergency

Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council are set to demand urgent action by the local authority on tackling climate change. In a motion to the next Full Council, the opposition group propose that Torbay should become carbon neutral by 2030. 

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, Steve Darling, said: “We cannot stand by and wait for others to act. Those of us in positions of responsibility need to force action now before it is too late. Other councils, from Cornwall to Bristol, have already taken this step.” 

The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, the Paignton councillor Chris Carter, said: “The Roundham-with Hyde-ward that I represent is the most vulnerable part of Torbay to rises in sea level. Paignton town centre is mostly on reclaimed land. How can I look my grandchild in the eye and say we did all we could if Torbay does nothing about this?” 

The motion reads as follows -

Notice of Motion - Climate Change

Full Council notes:

1. Human activity has already caused irreversible climate change, the impact of which is felt around the world. Global temperatures have increased by over 1°C from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are over 406 parts per million (ppm), far exceeding the 350ppm deemed a ‘safe’ level for humanity. The world is on track to overshoot the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit before 2030;

2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C published in November 2018 describes the harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause, and tells 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 people and local communities;

3. In order to reduce the chance of runaway global warming and limit the effects of climate breakdown, it is imperative that each of us reduces our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from their current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes without delay;

4. Individuals can accept responsibility for living in a more sustainable way but cannot be expected to make these changes on their own. Carbon emissions result from both production and consumption, so governments – national, regional and local – must change legislation, standards and their approach to meet the need to reduce our CO2eq emissions and make low carbon living easier to achieve and the new ‘norm’;

5. Local authorities and councils across the world are responding by declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committing to address this emergency. In the South West, Bristol, Cornwall and Somerset Councils have already taken this step;

6. Torbay, with its coastline and extensive low-lying areas, especially in Paignton, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Full Council believes that: 

1. All governments have a duty to limit the negative impacts of climate breakdown, and government recognises it cannot and should not wait for national government to act;

2. It is important for the residents of Torbay that its council commits to reducing CO2eq emissions and work towards carbon neutrality as quickly as possible;

3. Bold climate change can deliver economic benefits by way of new jobs, economic savings, market opportunities and improved well-being.

Full Council resolves to:

a) Affirm the Council’s recognition of the scale and urgency of the global challenge from climate change, as documented by the latest Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and declares climate emergency;

b) Mandate the Overview and Scrutiny Board to review and recommend what further corporate approaches can be taken through an energy and climate change strategy and to facilitate stronger Torbay-wide action through collaboration at a strategic, community and individual level;

c) Pledge to work with partners, including the Heart of the South West LEP, individuals and community action groups across Torbay to identify ways to make Torbay carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions;

d) Write to the Secretaries of State for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, Transport, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Housing, Communities & Local Government calling for the creation, provision or devolution of powers and resources to make achievement of the 2030 target possible here in Torbay;

e) Report to Full Council before the end of 2019 with the actions the Council has and will take to address this emergency; and

f)  Allocate £25,000 from the Council’s 2019/20 contingency budget and authorise the Interim Director of Place to utilise this funding to resource the work necessary to support the Overview and Scrutiny Board and to assess any specific recommendations and financial implications. Any unspent allocation will be carried forward into 2020/21 to continue the work.

Proposer     Cllr Steve Darling
Seconder     Cllr Chris Carter

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