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September 2020

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Published on 30 September 2020

Council motion on Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

The following motion on Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill was presented by Cllr J Hook and supported by Cllrs Connett, Dewhirst, Evans, Foden, Hayes, G Hook, Jeffries, Jenks, Keeling, Nutley, Nuttall, Parker Rollason, Swain and Wrigley at the full council meeting on 20 September 2020. 

It was approved unanimously.

The debate can be watched on our YouTube channel, approximately 1 hr and 48mins into the meeting

Background to the Motion provided by Cllr J Hook.

Humans have already caused harmful 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. The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, published in October 2018, describes the enormous harm that a 2 degrees Celsius rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5 degrees Celsius, and told us that limiting Global Warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius may still be possible with ambitious action from national and regional authorities, the private sector, and local communities.

Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and ten-year (2010-2019) periods are the highest on record. (WMO) 2019 was the second hottest year on record. (WMO). Based on today’s insufficient global commitments to reduce climate polluting emissions, emissions are on track to reach 56 Gt CO2e by 2030, over twice what they should be.

Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own but it is important that individuals do recognise and take responsibility for their own actions. Society needs to update its laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc. to make low carbon living easier and the new norm; and to restore nature, natural environments and biodiversity.

Carbon emissions result from both production and consumption.

Over-exploitation of the earth’s resources, coupled with poor land management and industrialised agriculture, are risking mass extinction of species and destruction of irreplaceable habitats.

We are dependent on the natural environment and ecosystems for clean water and air, food and protection, essential for our survival and the survival of our society and economy. This is a global and a local problem. 41% of UK wildlife species are in decline and 15% are at risk of extinction and species extinction is happening at 100 times the natural evolutionary rate.

The Council have already committed to action on the ecological emergency following our successful Tree Seminar, have a Green Infrastructure Plan and a draft Tree Strategy and ambitious policies in our draft Local Plan, and have begun an ambitious tree planting and promotion programme. Our official Ecological Emergency Declaration is recognition that we need to accelerate the pace of change. Urgent action is needed now by the Council, business, community organisations and individuals to stop habitat destruction, and create and link new wildlife-rich spaces.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is an alliance bill that has been written by scientists, lawyers and activists. The Bill was tabled in Parliament on Sept 2nd.

In summary the Bill calls for:

  • The UK to make and enact a serious plan. This means dealing with our real fair share of emissions so that we don’t go over critical global rises in temperature
  • Our entire carbon footprint be taken into account (in the UK and overseas)
  • The protection and conservation of nature here and overseas along supply chains, recognising the damage we cause through the goods we consume
  • Those in power not to depend on technology to save the day, which is used as an excuse to carry on polluting as usual
  • Ordinary people to have a real say on the way forward in a citizens’ assembly with bite.

Proposed motion to resolve

The Council believes that:

  1. All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate and Ecological Breakdown, and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies. It is important for Teignbridge Council and other Councils to commit to carbon neutrality and address the ecological emergency as quickly as possible.
  2. Towns, Cities and Local Authorities at all tiers are uniquely placed to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions and tackling the ecological emergency; as they have closer links with their residents.
  3. The Climate and Ecological Bill deserves the support of government as it reassesses the urgency of the twin climate and ecological emergencies.

Consequently, Teignbridge District Council will:

(a) Declare an ‘Ecological Emergency’ alongside the Climate Emergency it has already declared. In doing so the Council commit to:

  • Working with partners locally and regionally to drive coordinated leadership and collaborative action to aid the recovery of nature and natural environments and identify areas for habitat restoration
  • Ensuring irreplaceable habitats are protected, the biodiversity mitigation hierarchy is followed, and that net biodiversity gain is implemented appropriately
  • Lead by example and promote the good work the Council is currently and will in future be doing
  • Finalising an ambitious Tree Strategy
  • Reviewing the Teignbridge District Council Green Infrastructure Strategy .

(b) Register our support for the CEE Bill and write to our two MPs to urge them to sign up to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.