New ways of thinking to tackle climate change
At last Wednesday’s council meeting (24 June) councillors agreed the lessons learnt during the coronavirus crisis on how to deliver change at a rapid pace will help meet the county’s climate change targets to create a cleaner, greener post-covid Gloucestershire.
The council’s response to Covid-19 has been exceptional, and by using the benefits of technology has allowed services to continue to be delivered and at a rapid pace.
As the county recovers from this health crisis, the council has pledged to use this new way of thinking about how we live and work as a basis for building communities resilient to tackle climate change.
Gloucestershire County Council declared a climate emergency in May 2019 and included commitments to be net zero by 2030, and deliver a carbon neutral county by 2050, working with partners to deliver an 80% reduction by 2030.
The council has switched to buying 100 per cent renewable electricity for its buildings and other assets, such as signs and bollards across Gloucestershire’s roads.
The county council has also joined the new Countryside Climate Network, set up by UK100, designed to amplify rural voices and signed the UK100 pledge on achieving 100 per cent clean energy by 2050.
The motion asked for the cabinet member to provide a report on what lessons have been learnt during Covid-19 that the council can apply to its policies and practices to meet the county’s climate change targets.
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “We have seen many changes and increased demand for services over the past few months and have had to respond quickly to meet the needs of people across the county. It’s important we continue with this new way of thinking to deliver change at a rapid pace to create a cleaner and greener Gloucestershire. I am happy to look into this further and report back to scrutiny.”
Cllr Kate Haigh, Labour & Co-operative representative, said: “The climate emergency is, if anything, more acute than ever, while some of the actions that can be taken to address it are more realistic and achievable than we might have thought. We need to work together to build resilient and sustainable communities. We must constantly review and adapt our strategies in a rapidly changing world and build a cleaner, greener post-Covid Gloucestershire.”
Cllr Rachel Smith, Group Leader for the Green Party, said: “The response to the covid-19 pandemic has been rapid, and we need to apply that same urgency to the climate crisis. Our house is on fire and we cannot afford to waste anymore time.”
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “13 months ago, Gloucestershire County Council made the commitment to reduce the emissions of the county by 80 per cent by 2030 – now just ten years away. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that rapid change is possible – however it is only by bringing the same fervour that we brought to this crisis that we have any chance of meeting that target. I look forward to hearing and scrutinising the Cabinet Member’s proposals for emergency measures at the upcoming Environment scrutiny committee.”
The full motion is available here.