A motion setting out action to achieve the Stroud District Carbon Neutral 2030 Commitment was approved by the Council’s Environment Committee at its meeting Thursday, December 13 with unanimous support by Green, Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative Councillors.
Green Stroud District Councillor Simon Pickering (Slade Ward) introduced the motion and it was seconded by Lib Dem Councillor George Butcher (Wotton-under-Edge Ward).
An amendment by Labour Councillors removed the specific commitment to ring-fence funds from anticipated business rate pilot revenue. However, the decision to implement a plan of action was retained.
Cllr Jim Dewey (Green, Coaley Uley Ward) opposed the amendment and said, “It’s sad that a Labour amendment removed the specific initial funding of £200,000 but I am encouraged that the Labour members publically committed to spending what is needed to implement this motion – even if it exceeds the £200,000 we requested.”
“We are all aware of the risks of doing nothing. By promising to put aside the necessary resources, Stroud can provide leadership to achieve significant economic, social and environmental benefits by shifting to a very low carbon energy future,” said Cllr Pickering. “Passage of this motion is a victory for the future of our planet.”
“There is a wealth of talent and expertise in Stroud District and Gloucestershire County to work with us to take this forward. There are blueprints that have been put together such as Gloucestershire’s Sustainable Energy Policy. What is needed is the demonstration of political will,” said Cllr Pickering.
“I was impressed with the turnout by the public at tonight’s Environment Committee meeting. It shows that there is a great deal of concern and support for concrete action, not just words, by local authorities and it’s our duty to listen and act,” said Cllr George Butcher.
Martin Whiteside, Leader of the Greens on Stroud District Council (Thrupp Ward), lauded the cross party support for the motion. “We have to fight climate change NOW and we can’t do it alone. Climate change is already happening, from ice caps melting in the arctic, to heatwaves in Europe and America to wells drying up and crops failing in Africa.”
“This motion enables the District Council to form a grand coalition of individuals, communities, businesses, schools, politicians and health services to do something really radical and effective. Together we can make a difference and there is no time to waste – our species and many others depend on action now!”
Stroud District, and other local and regional authorities, have a role in contributing towards the achievement of national, legally binding, carbon emissions reduction targets, as agreed in the Climate Change Act 2008 and at the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change .
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report focussing on the impact that an increase in global temperatures of 1.5°C would have on the planet, compared to a 2°C increase. Above 1.5°C, the risks to humanity of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty become much greater. At current levels, the world is on course for 3°C of warming .
In Gloucestershire, the consequences of no action include:
- Increased risk of flash flooding and the resulting damages to buildings, crops, farmland and infrastructure as a result of more extreme rainfall events.
- Health problems due to increased heat stress, particularly for vulnerable adults and children.
- Increased costs associated with changes to crops and biodiversity.
- Higher energy costs.
- Crop failures associated with extreme heat, such as was experienced in 2018 .
There are however significant economic, social and environmental benefits to be secured from these changes. Both 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 lowering the risk of fuel poverty and reducing air pollution . This presents a stunning opportunity for Stroud District to become the centre of the new Green Economic Revolution in the South West.