Members of Corby Council have become the latest local authority to declare a climate emergency.
Senior councillor and Lead Member for Environment Mark Pengelly put forward a motion at last night’s (Thursday, August 29) full council meeting to ask his fellow members to declare an emergency and to compel the authority to take tangible steps to help to limit global warming.
Kettering Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council have already declared their own climate emergencies although Wellingborough Council declined to do so earlier this summer leading to public protests from environmental group Extinction Rebellion.
Cllr Pengelly’s motion said: “Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world.
“Global temperatures have already increased by one degree celsius from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million, exceeding the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity.
“In order to reduce runaway Global Warming and limit effects of Climate Breakdown, it is vital that we as a species reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from the current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to two tonnes or less as soon as possible.
“Individuals cannot be expected to achieve this reduction alone. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure, to make low carbon living easier and the new norm.
“Current plans and local actions are not enough.”
Cllr Pengelly asked the council to endorse the view and take seriously its duty to limit the impact of climate breakdown.
His motion added: “Areas like Corby are well placed to lead in reducing carbon emissions, as they are in many ways easier to decarbonise than rural areas – for example because of their capacity for heat networks and mass transit.”
Unanimously passing the motion, members agreed to several key outcomes including calling on Westminster to provide powers and resources to help reduce emissions; continuing to work with partners across the town and region to limit global warming and to end council and pension fund investment in fossil fuels within three years.
The motion also compelled officers to report back to the council within six months the actions that the authority will take to address the emergency.
Speaking after last night’s meeting, Cllr Pengelly said that he had taken on board criticism from local environmental campaigners who said that the council’s stance on the planned Shelton Road incinerator was at odds with its declaration of a climate emergency.
Cllr Pengelly said: “There’s a debate over whether we should burn our rubbish or bury our rubbish but I think the best thing is to produce less rubbish in the first place.
“We are already doing a lot in Corby - we have our electric charging points, solar panels on council houses and the eco-homes at Priors Hall opening next week.
“There are lots of things that are easy to change - for example in the council chamber we have single-use plastic cups.
“It starts with the individual but as an organisation we need to change.”