I have forced a debate in the House of Lords on Tuesday 2 April (4:30 to 5:30pm) to demand the government declares a Climate Emergency, bringing this amazing grassroots campaign into Parliament.
It's a campaign that has snowballed since Bristol Green Party councillors moved a successful motion at Bristol City Council in November declaring a Climate Emergency, with over 26 other local authorities across the country following suit.
In line with the findings of a major report from the International Panel on Climate Change, which says we have 12 years left to avert breakdown of our climate, Bristol City Council unanimously resolved to bring forward its targets and become carbon neutral by 2030.
We know from experience that this is only the first step towards a change of priorities and some real action. The grey parties that dominate UK politics might vote for a green sounding motion but that won’t, by itself, stop them building a traffic generating road, or justifying the construction of a highly polluting incinerator. We have to point out the hypocrisy and encourage voters to see it too. While it is great to have a Green in the room, putting forward ideas like the Climate Emergency motions, it is much better if we have the weight of numbers to put them into practice.
“This is only the first step towards a change of priorities and some real action”
The declaration of a Climate Emergency conveys both the urgency of the issue and the necessity of action within the briefest of time frames.
We need to link the lack of investment by councils in renewable energy with the government’s huge subsidies for gas and oil. We need to highlight the way the withdrawal of subsidies for local bus services hits the poorest and leaves them isolated in their homes, while the government promotes Heathrow expansion, the single most polluting project in the UK. We need all new homes to be carbon neutral now; in fact, they should be aiming to become net producers of energy. This applies to planning in a village, or to the country as a whole.
That is why I will be bringing this idea to the House of Lords, and why Green MP Caroline Lucas has also tabled an early day motion on a Climate Emergency in the House of Commons.
Elected Greens have now joined this call in: Bradford, Brighton & Hove, Forest of Dean, Kirklees, Lambeth, Lewes, Liverpool, London Assembly, St Albans, Scarborough, Shropshire, Stroud, and Trafford. Many other councils have been pressured into action by Greens outside the council chamber.
It is now up to us to turn promises into action, both local and national. The May elections will be a great time to start.