The Government should put its weight behind Green MP Caroline Lucas’s private members’ bill calling on it to develop a strategy to achieve this goal, Calderdale Council eventually agreed.
Labour and Liberal Democrats supported this move alongside local measures to reduce carbon use locally, but unhappy Conservatives said the council should put its own house in order first.
Coun Scott Patient’s (Lab, Luddenden Foot) motion to the full council urged Government and local MPs – Conservative Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) and Labour’s Holly Lynch (Halifax) – to support the private member’s bill.
It also called on the authority to continue its own work, with an emphasis on taking a lead by providing advice to local communties and businesses on steps they can take.
Coun Patient said supporting the bill was “a no-brainer” following a year in which wildfires, heat, severe flooding and melting ice caps were on the news every day. “We are at a tipping point,” he said.
Coun Rosin Cavanagh (Lab, Luddenden Foot) agreed and said; “We’re at a point where it’s impossible for anyone to ignore that climate change is happening, that it is an emergency and that it is happening right now.
“Reaching net zero carbon is not a single issue camapign delegated to a placard – we are literally talking about the air we breathe.
“If we don’t have the leadership we will all face the consequences,” she said.
Liberal Democrat group leader Coun James Baker (Warley) said action plans should be created with local communities at ward level and rising threats to wildlife and biodiversity highlighted.
But an amendment tabled by Coun Jacob Cook (Con, Greetland and Stainland) suggested the Climate and Ecology Bill would be potentially harmful, saying it had been developed “in close co-operation” with campaign group Extinction Rebellion which he labelled “incedibly disruptive and dangerous.”
Coun Cook said the council’s Emission Reduction Pathway Report said the authority could not hit net zero by its own 2038 target without using negative emission technlogies which the bill would largely make illegal.
He suggested the council instead implement a “realistic” strategy which among other things would include reforming its Local Plan by reducing housing allocations and resulting emissions.
“We believe that climate change is real and we must fight it, however the solutions will come from the private sector, as with the current pandemic when the vaccine came from private companies, not from London,” he said.
Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) said it was actually Coun Cook who was confused, for wanting the council to give the Government credit but not rely on it to solve climate change problems.
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