Climate Emergency call at Kent County Council

May 19, 2019
Kent Greens will be joining Extinction Rebellion groups from across Kent on Thursday 23rd May as Green KCC councillor, Martin Whybrow, calls on Kent County Council to declare a climate emergency at the Full Council meeting. The demonstration commences at 9am outside County Hall where protestors will be creating a ‘Garden of England’ as well as making a great deal of noise.
Martin says: “Many councils across the country have made this declaration and I am proposing that KCC follows suit. KCC must act immediately to ensure that carbon emissions across Kent are rapidly reduced. I am calling for KCC to review its policies and strategies to ensure that that reflect the emergency and to ensure that the whole of Kent becomes carbon neutral by 2030.”
Stuart Jeffery, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: “The climate emergency is happening now. There is just a short amount of time to radically change the way we live to ensure that the planet remains habitable for our children and grandchildren. We are at the start of the sixth mass extinction but it is within our gift to reverse it. KCC must act, and it must act now. I will be joining the demonstrators outside County Hall to add my voice on this vital issue.”

Mandy Rossi, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: “The evidence is clear, the planet needs us to stop emitting carbon dioxide, to stop polluting our seas and our air. We need to do this now. We want KCC to fundamentally rethink its approach which means no new roads, massive investment in public transport and a zero approach to waste.”
The full motion reads:
Proposer: Martin Whybrow, Green Party

Seconder: Rob Bird, Lib Dems

While Kent County Council has shown leadership when it comes to carbon reduction and addressing climate breakdown, there needs to be greater urgency, more focus, ambitious performance targets and reporting.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C described the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5°C rise. It concluded that limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and local authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities.

Prime exposures to climate change for Kent’s residents include the effects of more severe weather events and coastal flooding, and the rapid loss of biodiversity, which is occurring at “a rate seen only during mass extinctions” according to the World Wide Fund for Nature1.

Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure (including electric vehicle charging) etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm2.

Bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities, as well as improved well-being for people worldwide. The Government and the Committee on Climate Change believe the shift to a very low carbon energy future represents the best course for the country’s economic development while also lowering the risk of fuel poverty and reducing air pollution.

In terms of achievements to date, the significant reduction in carbon emissions from the roll-out of LED streetlights across the county was an excellent step forward by KCC and there it is also important work within the Kent Environment Strategy and other initiatives such as the Active Travel Strategy and emerging Energy and Low Emissions Strategy.

Building on this:

  1. KCC recognises the Climate Emergency and will commit resources and will align its policies to address this.
  2. KCC will set a target of carbon neutrality from its activities and those of its trading companies by 2030 using the Carbon Trust framework, with an Action Plan for achieving this.
  3. KCC will report annually at full council on its progress towards the target.
  4. KCC will work with partners and contract providers and will investigate all possible sources of external funding and match funding to support this commitment as well as writing to central government with respect to the emergency to request funding to implement swift appropriate actions in response.

Footnotes:

  1. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called for government leadership to make the changes necessary to reduce carbon emissions. According to the WWF Living Planet Report 2018, “Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions”. The losses in vertebrate species – mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles – averaged 60% between 1970 and 2014.
  2. To reduce the chance of runaway global warming and limit the effects of climate breakdown, it is imperative that we as a species reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from the current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible – Fossil CO2 & GHG emissions of all world countries, 2017: http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2andGHG1970-2016&dst=GHGpc


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