Unanimous backing for plan to tackle climate change in Solihull
Solihull Council has set a target of becoming carbon-neutral within 11 years, as part of efforts to tackle climate change.
Councillors this week gave unanimous backing to a motion which committed the local authority to reducing greenhouse gases and air pollutants and working towards being “net carbon zero” by 2030.
Cllr Andy Mackiewicz, the cabinet member responsible for this area, said a special commission will be set up to advise on the strategy and there will also be efforts to promote more eco-friendly vehicles and energy efficient buildings in the borough.
Solihull’s Conservative administration had said that its plan to protect the environment would tackle the issue head-on and build on previous work.
In recent months, opposition parties and green activists had argued the ruling group’s rhetoric hadn’t matched the reality and Solihull was in fact lagging behind other areas when it came to dealing with the problem.
An earlier Green Party motion, calling for the council to declare a climate emergency, had failed to pass back in February and Friends of the Earth figures – which ranked Solihull behind many of its nearest neighbours – were seized upon by critics.
But following a two hour debate, the statement was passed with cross-party backing and there was a positivity about the steps being taken on all sides of the chamber.
Cllr Ian Courts, leader of the council, said: “Can I say how pleased I am that we have achieved not only a degree of consensus, but a degree of collaboration about the way forward and almost a degree of optimism that we can do stuff and that is very good.
“I’m afraid to say that there are people whose response will be to all of what we have said tonight ‘the UK is only one per cent of all the world’s emissions, so what difference does it make if we shut down the UK?’ That of course is not the point, the point is we all have a responsibility to take action…”
Cllr James Burn, leader of the opposition, argued the meeting would probably go down as “the best” he had had on the council.
“This is, and rightly so, one of the top issues that residents are raising with us,” he said.
Earlier in the evening he had warned of “the calamity” the world would face without action, citing temperatures of 48 degrees in the UK, tropical diseases on the South Coast and “entire villages in the East of England” disappearing beneath the sea.
While the debate was far calmer than those previously held on this issue, it did point to potential fault lines moving forward.
Several Tories had insisted targets must be realistic and Cllr Tony Dicicco (Con, Meriden) criticised the tactics of Extinction Rebellion, suggesting protesters’ approach would turn off the public.
The Greens meanwhile said the scale of the task would require “huge, sweeping changes” to society, while Cllr Tim Hodgson (Green, Shirley West) argued the Friends of the Earth research didn’t give the borough “a very good review”.
The league table – which ranks the climate change performance of every council in England and Wales – gave Solihull a score of 56 per cent.
By contrast, the highest-ranked authority, Wiltshire, received 92 per cent.
In its summary, the environmental group said Solihull’s performance was “poor” in comparison to other town halls.
“All local authorities, even the best performing, need to do much better if climate catastrophe is to be averted,” it said.
“Solihull needs particularly to do much better on improving home insulation, increasing renewable energy and increasing waste recycling.”
But Cllr Courts insisted his group was committed to real action and suggested that some other areas had made climate change declarations which were “not worth the paper they are written on.”
Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/unanimous-backing-plan-tackle-climate-17057827