It should no longer be up for debate that climate change is a global emergency, and this is the last generation that can deliver the change necessary to keep global emissions below 1.5 degrees. The issue has found its way back into public consciousness and we are seeing a new wave of youth-led protests calling for action. One of the key demands from activists is for their local councils to pass a motion declaring a climate emergency and committing to making the area carbon neutral by 2030 at the latest.
Across the country, from Cornwall to Edinburgh, local authorities are passing climate emergency motions. The exact wording varies from area to area, but most commit the council to set up a working group that engages a cross-section of the community and must report within a short timescale how the target will be implemented. So could Birmingham be next? Rumours abound that a cross-party motion will be brought to the council by June, and we hope this will be as bold as the challenge demands.
Passing a motion isn’t the same as implementing radical change, so if the motion passes as we hope; the really interesting question will be what happens next and what actions are taken as a result. With some exceptions, many recent council decisions have not been as progressive as we would like, and it will require leadership and vision to do what justice demands. Birmingham is the second biggest city in the country and the largest local authority; the decisions our council makes really matter and we should be setting a high bar.
A declaration will give us a tool to hold our elected representatives to account, and a framework within which to analyse decisions. You can play a part in this by contacting your councillor and asking them to support a strong motion. Once it has passed, check in on how the plan is proceeding against the action plan. The inspirational school strikes for climate have shown that we cannot wait for our leaders to act; we all have a responsibility to work together to disrupt the status quo and demand action is taken.