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City councillors have declared a ‘climate emergency’ in the Lancaster district after supporting proposals set out by Labour councillors.
The move, which secured unanimous support at the full Lancaster City Council meeting on Wednesday 30 January, means the council must identify how its activities can be made net-zero carbon by 2030 and support moves to make the district zero-carbon.
It coincided with a petition backed by more than 1,500 young people across the district being presented earlier in proceedings, which also called for a climate emergency to be declared.
The Labour group which runs the council last summer won support for proposals which committed the authority to achieving 100 per cent clean energy across its activities by 2050.
But the party’s Halton ward councillor, Kevin Frea, told councillors that a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had warned that urgent action was needed around the globe within the next 12 years to tackle climate change.
He said the council needed to act faster in order to avoid extreme weather – like the flooding which has hit the district in recent years – becoming more frequent and severe.
The proposals mean that the council will set up a Climate Change Cabinet Liaison group immediately, involving councillors, residents, young people and academics. The group will review the council’s 2010 climate change strategy and come up with costed plans to cut carbon emissions which will feed into next year’s budget.
Cllr Frea backed amendments to his proposals by his Labour colleague and University ward councillor Oliver Robinson. These mean that the council will also convene a Citizens’ Assembly this year to support those plans, maximise its impact in sectors including health, agriculture, transport and the economy, and work with other agencies to make the district zero-carbon by 2030. Cllr Robinson, who is one of the council’s youngest councillors, said that young people should be fully involved in the process rather than working separately through their own climate panel.
Possible measures to tackle climate change could include increasing energy efficiency of buildings – which will also help address fuel poverty – further development of solar and renewable energy, and replacing the council’s vehicle fleet with electric or hydrogen powered vehicles.
Cllr Frea said: “I’m thrilled that these proposals attracted support across the council chamber.
“Climate change has already had a devastating impact across our district through the flooding which has caused so much misery in recent years.
“We all need to do our bit and it was vital for us a council to commit to acting faster and going further in reducing carbon emissions and encouraging other agencies to follow suit. The hard work starts here.”