Climate Emergency Declaration
UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés warned that “We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet”.*
An IPCC special report found that global warming above 1.5 °C would dramatically increase the risks to humanity of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty and would impact on hundreds of millions more people.*
Responding to this climate emergency is a non-party-political issue, which will affect us and our children for generations to come, requiring cooperation and collaboration across party-lines. Dozens of councils around the country have already declared climate emergencies, as have MPs in the UK parliament, and the Welsh Assembly.
We note the commitments and progress the Council has already made towards reducing Sevenoaks' greenhouse gas emissions and becoming carbon neutral but much more needs to be done for our district to play its full part in preventing climate change with the urgency required.
We ask the Council to:
1. Declare that it recognises a Climate Emergency,
2. Pledge to do everything within the Council’s power to make the whole of the Sevenoaks district carbon neutral by 2030,
3. Within this, develop an ambitious sustainability strategy for reducing the Council’s own emissions, with an objective that the Council becomes carbon neutral by 2030,
4. Call on national government for more powers and resources to make this pledge possible,
5. Continue to work with partners across the district and region to deliver this new goal, through all relevant strategies and plans,
6. Take account of climate impacts within existing decision-making processes,
7. Report back to full Council in six months on an action plan to address the emergency, and then every six months after this on the progress being made, and
8. Dedicate sufficient staff and budget to achieve these aims, including training all Council staff and councillors.
Background – many other councils have already declared a climate emergency
A growing number of other UK town, city and county councils have taken the step of declaring a climate emergency. MPs have declared a UK climate emergency, as have the Welsh Assembly. A range of different motions have been passed, but most pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and to implement action plans to achieve this.
As of 6th October 2020, 308 District, County, Unitary & Metropolitan Councils have already passed motions*, including:
Kent County Council
Canterbury City Council
Dartford Borough Council
Folkestone and Hythe District Council
Gravesham Borough Council
Maidstone Borough Council
Swale District Council
Thanet District Council
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Background : Why declare an emergency?
A Climate Emergency declaration issued by a body in authority, such as a government or local council, can be a powerful catalyst for community-wide action if paired with a clear action plan.
The IPCC report warned that humanity has 10 years to take emergency action in order to prevent global warming greater than 1.5°C. Above this, the risks to humanity of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty become much greater, impacting on hundreds of millions more people.
People expect an emergency announcement when there is a life-threatening situation, and will hesitate to take any action themselves if nobody else appears to be taking the threat seriously. Think of a fire alarm. People might initially think it is just a drill, and will ignore it if everyone else does. But as soon as someone who is considered to be a leader says the fire is indeed real and points out the safest exit to use, everyone will drop what they are doing and evacuate.
So declaring a climate emergency is a vital first step. It will empower our community, encourage others to follow suit, and help all of us treat the climate crisis as the existential emergency that it is.
This ePetition ran from 25/11/2020 to 16/12/2021 and has now finished.
14 people signed this ePetition.