Councillors declare a “climate emergency” and call for further work to reduce Cornwall’s carbon emissions

The climate change crisis and the need for urgent action was recognised by Cornwall Council today with a “climate emergency” declared.

The motion – ‘Urgency on Climate Change’ - was brought to Full Council by Councillor Dominic Fairman, local member for St Teath and St Breward, and seconded by Councillor Edwina Hannaford, the Council’s Cabinet portfolio holder for neighbourhoods.

The motion called on the Council to provide resource to prepare a report within six months to establish how Cornwall can sufficiently reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency, low-carbon fuels and investment in renewable energy within a timescale which is consistent with an ambition to restrain Global Warming to 1.5°C.

An amendment to the motion was put forward by Councillor Jayne Kirkham, seconded by Councillor Martyn Alvey.  The amendment went further, declaring a climate emergency and calling on Westminster to provide the powers and resources necessary to achieve the target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral by 2030.

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Cllr Fairman said: “After a very lively debate a cross-party amendment was accepted which went even further than the original motion. If we are to avoid the worst-case scenarios, then the social change required will be deep.  

"Radical social change is uncomfortable and difficult – but I believe that as local representatives of our communities we have a responsibility to take leadership. Cornwall Council has shown that leadership today," he said.

Councillor Jayne Kirkham said: “Members voted for the amended motion, almost unanimously, to declare a climate emergency today in line with other local governments across the world covering 17.5 million people, including London and Manchester. Our ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030 and the report we will prepare to help us to do so, will put Cornwall on the front line in combating climate change.”

Cabinet Portfolio Holder for the environment Sue James said: "Climate change is already here and having effects in Cornwall, like the unprecedented rainfall causing flooding in Coverack in July 2017 and the significant late snow last year.

“We cannot compete with the power of nature with money and concrete alone. Our climate change planning has to assist communities to make appropriate and realistic plans. Scientists warn that extreme weather events will have a disproportionate toll on poor, weak and elderly people; those people this Council has set a priority to protect.

“Today’s declaration is a positive step forward in building on the work done by the Council to date on issues contributing to tackling climate change, ranging from supporting renewable energy to reducing waste, improving public transport to reduce traffic congestion, flood mitigation, rolling out energy saving LED street lighting and more. Our plans will build on these achievements and work with other Councils with similar ambitions.

“We all have a part to play in this - whether being less wasteful of food, having a meat free day a week, driving less and considering a less polluting vehicle when considering changing our cars or mending things rather than simply throwing them away."

Posed on 22 January 2019