Rugby Borough Council should declare a Climate Emergency
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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.
A Climate Emergency declaration issued by Rugby Borough Council will be a powerful catalyst for community-wide action if paired with a clear action plan.
We, who live, work or study in the borough of Rugby, call upon the council to:
- Declare a Climate Emergency.
- Become a net-zero carbon organisation by 2030
- Establish a Citizen’s Assembly to generate ideas and involve the community in the process of change.
- Set up a working group, chaired by Cabinet member/Committee chair, involving as wide a participation from local community as possible, to report within 6 months, or at least in time for their recommendations to be funded in the next budget cycle.
- Develop a strategy to convey to the community the severity of the situation, and to make known the ways in which local people can take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions in their own lives.
- Develop, within 6 months, a realistic plan to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions within the district to zero by 2030, with substantial consultation with the local community, including schoolchildren.
- To immediately take such actions that would obviously contribute to this goal, identified in consultation with the local community, without waiting for completion of the plan.
- Lobby central government to provide the funding and the laws we need to achieve this.
- Produce an ethical procurement framework to ensure suppliers reduce their carbon footprint.
The climate science, summarised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is clear that we are living in a state of climate emergency.
At 1° of warming, increased hurricanes, heatwaves, gales, floods, droughts, and wildfires are already killing thousands and unhoming millions around the world, damaging agricultural systems, ruining homes and infrastructure, and driving animal species to extinction. This kind of damage will only increase as our globe warms to a potentially disastrous 4° which we are said to be currently on track to reach, passing irreversible tipping points, whereby feedback mechanisms will push the warming process up even higher. These include the melting of the polar ice sheets, reducing the earth’s ability to reflect the sun’s rays; and the release, already underway, of massive deposits of methane—a greenhouse gas at least 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide—that are currently frozen under the permafrost.
The result will be an earth largely beyond the limits of human survivability. We stand on a cliff edge, beyond which we could see the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world’, as David Attenborough said in a speech at the recent UN COP24 Summit. Should all the ice melt, and sea levels rise 50 metres, parts of Warwickshire could be underwater.
Hundreds of Warwickshire schoolchildren have made clear their knowledge of the basic meaning of the climate science, and their horror at the future being prepared for them. We need those in positions of leadership to take the lead in treating the emergency as an emergency paying heed to the testimony of scientists. An increasing number of UK councils—88 at time of writing—have declared a climate emergency, and committed to drastically cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, most often to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. We need Rugby Borough Council to follow suit.
The measures that will then be adopted will also significantly contribute to Air Quality improvements that are so desperately needed in Rugby.
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