Two tiers of local governance declare a Climate Emergency

This has been a week of excitement regarding action on climate change, giving me some cause for optimism.  On 26th February 2019, Wiltshire Council had scheduled two motions relating to climate change; one, from Liberal Democrat Councillor Brian Matthews was to declare a Climate Emergency, with a set of proposals as to how the Council should act if the motion was passed. The second, entitled Environment and Global Warming, focused on what the Council should do regarding its own buildings and property to reduce emissions, put forward by Conservative Councillors Wickham and Whitehead. Some 30 of us, from several parts of Wiltshire, with banners designed by Extinction Rebellion as well as home made ones, stood outside County Hall and handed out flyers explaining the climate emergency to everyone who passed.

There was the opportunity for members of the public to speak for 3 minutes, and I did so from a CFB and personal perspective. The hour long debate among the Council was lively and many contributions were well made, supporting the Climate Emergency Motion, but it was clear that the limited motion put by the Conservative councillors had support from other councillors of the party. We really did not expect the Climate Emergency motion to be passed, but were pleased that a debate was taking place, and we expected to plan a further attempt in a couple of months.  Imagine our delight when the voting took place, and the motion passed 36 votes to 32, with 7 abstentions! What happens next is of key importance – words are just a start.

The next excitement was our Town Council meeting on March 5th discussing a Climate Emergency Motion that the Environment and Planning Committee had already agreed should be put to Council This was passed unanimously!  Several members of CFB were present to see the enthusiasm for taking real action, and the promise that members of the community will be closely involved in working with the Town Council to devise a plan of action – with the Mayor committing also to keeping Wiltshire Council on its toes regarding their motion.

There is a huge amount of work to be done, to transform our lives to be zero carbon by 2030, but we have a positive policy framework in both our Councils within which to work.  Exciting and busy times ahead for CFB and Extinction Rebellion supporters!        Rachel Berger