KCC’s hopeless response to our Climate Emergency

May 25, 2019

On Thursday at full council at Kent County Council, our Green Party councillor, Martin Whybrow, brought a motion demanding the council declared a Climate Emergency and set a carbon neutral target of 2030 for all of its activities, aligning its policies and setting an action plan to achieve this.

In his opening speech, he warned: “If there is an amendment brought – [an all too familiar Tory tactic when confronted with an inconvenient motion] – then this council will have MISSED THE POINT. The clue is in the word ‘emergency’.” But that, of course, is what happened. Out went the 2030 date; out went the zero carbon target. The amendment was for zero emissions across Kent and Medway by 2050 and writing a climate risk and impact report. As Martin responded, the time for report writing was years ago.

Looking back on the woeful response from the lead KCC group, Martin says: “Thank you so much to everyone who came along to support my Climate Emergency motion on Thursday. It was great to have so many there, all that colour, noise and enthusiasm, a stark contrast to the closed minds and hopeless watering down of the motion that then occurred in the council chamber.”

The motion was supported by local groups of Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and Kent’s Green Party branches. They staged a demonstration outside County Hall, turning the area into a garden party and handing out flowers, with climate crisis facts, to councillors as they arrived. At the end, in response to the council’s inaction, they staged a mass die-in.

The motion had strong support from both the Lib Dem and Labour groups on KCC.

Martin says: “How can KCC NOT agree a carbon neutral target of 2030 when so many councils across the country are doing so? No interest at all from the leader of the council, Paul Carter (who spent the ‘debate’ reading papers); claims of exaggerations from the Tories to scientists’ robust 20+ years research (Sean Holden, Tory, Cranbrook) and the claim of “nebulous, attention-seeking and silly” to setting a target date (Matthew Balfour, Tory, Malling East Rural).

“The dinosaurs hold sway for now but thank heavens for all of our youngsters across the globe who went on school strike again on Friday (including many here in Kent) and all of those, such as XR, who are taking the fight to the streets and demanding our leaders address the biggest threat faced by mankind and all of the species that share the wonderful, fragile planet with us.”