New Forest District Council step closer to declaring a climate emergency
TWO years after refusing to declare a climate emergency, New Forest District Council is one step closer to catching up with its counterparts by proclaiming one of its own.
Adopting a motion by the opposition Liberal Democrat group at its latest meeting on Wednesday, the authority’s ruling Conservative cabinet has now recommended the council makes such a declaration.
As reported by the A&T, in 2019 members of the council’s environment overview and scrutiny panel refused to back announcing an emergency, voting instead for an action plan which included making the council carbon neutral by 2050.
The latest motion sets a much more ambitious target of 2030 and calls for annual updates on progress.
Lib Dem Cllr Philip Dowd said that as the “caretaker of an environmentally sensitive area” such as the New Forest, the council must “demonstrate leadership in taking action”.
He continued: “I challenge you to support this motion, because burying your heads in the sand and thinking you are doing enough already is not good enough.
“We need to look forward to a future world and say we did everything we could to reduce the effects of climate change and then our children, and their children, will thank us for doing so.”
Tory leader Cllr Edward Heron argued the council had already done a great deal over the years to reduce the district’s impact on the environment.
“What we haven’t got such a strong track record of doing is advocating and making people aware of what we are doing and encouraging others to join us on that journey,” he said.
However, Tory Cllr Derek Tipp, NFDC’s chair,
repeated his warning about what he termed “extremist groups like Extinction Rebellion”, and urged the council to reject such movements.
He continued: “It is well known that I have campaigned over many years against the exaggeration of the effects of CO2 emissions on the world’s climate.
“I am concerned that declaring this emergency may lead to some people having unrealistic expectations of what the council will do.” He argued the 2030 target for making the district carbon neutral was “completely unrealistic as it involves vast expenditure”.
He said: “I hope you will reassure me and others who agree with me that we will not be spending large sums of council funds to reach net zero before the government’s target date of 2050, which itself will be extremely challenging when viewed against the nation’s record debt levels and soaring fuel and energy costs.”
The recommendation to declare a climate and nature emergency will go before NFDC’s next full council meeting on Monday at 6.30pm.