5 January 2019

The following is an early draft of the motion to be submitted to Swindon Borough Council on the 24th of January.

Councillors from each of the three parties on the Council have offered their support and the final draft is being agreed. We still need to secure enough support for the motion to pass.

The key points of the motion are:

  • For Swindon to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’
  • To make the borough of Swindon carbon neutral by 2030
  • For the Leader of the Council to report back with the actions the Council will take to address this emergency.

To make sure it passes, please contact your local councillors and ask them to vote for it. You can find contact details for your councillor, along with a draft letter that you can adapt as needed, HERE.

The seas are rising, and so must we.

 


 

 

 

Council notes:

  1. Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. Global temperatures have already increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels.[1] Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm).[2] This far exceeds the 350ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity;
  2. In order to reduce the chance of runaway Global Warming and limit the effects of Climate Breakdown, it is imperative that we reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from their current figure of around 12 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible;[3]
  3. Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure and expectations to make low carbon living easier and the new norm;
  4. Carbon emissions result from both production and consumption;
  5. SBC has already shown some foresight in its Local Plan 2026, by recognising that Swindon should be home to low-carbon employment and R&D and identifying sustainable energy as a key focus for the Borough. However, progress toward those goals has been limited, and the latest scientific consensus shows that they are wholly inadequate to address the crisis that we face.
  6. Unfortunately, our current plans and actions are not enough. The world is on track to overshoot the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit before 2050; [4][5]
  7. The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5°C rise. It tells us that limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and local communities;[5]
  8. Councils around the world are responding by declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committing resources to address this emergency.[6] This motion follows the example set by Bristol[7], Stroud[8] and the London Assembly.

This Council believes:

  1. All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, and local governments should not wait for their national governments to change their policies. It is important for the residents of Swindon and the UK that large towns and cities commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible;
  2. Large towns and cities are uniquely placed to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions, as they are in many ways easier to decarbonise than rural areas – for example because of their capacity for heat networks and mass transit;
  3. As the home to many high-tech companies involved in renewable energy, energy storage and waste reduction, Swindon is well placed to lead the way to a zero-carbon economy;
  4. Bold climate action will deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities (as well as improved well-being for people worldwide); and
  5. The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority.

This Council resolves:

  1. To declare a ‘Climate Emergency’;
  2. To make the borough of Swindon carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3)[9];
  3. To call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible;
  4. To work with other governments (regionally, within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5°C;
  5. To work with partners across the town and region to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans;
  6. That the Leader of the Council report to Council within six months with the actions the Council will take to address this emergency.

References:

  1. UK Government: Climate change explained: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/climate-change-explained
  2. NASA scientists react to 400 ppm carbon milestone: https://climate.nasa.gov/400ppmquotes/
  3. DEFRA - UK's Carbon Footprint 1997–2015: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/704607/Consumption_emissions_May18.pdf
  4. World Resources Institute: https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/10/8-things-you-need-know-about-ipcc-15-c-report
  5. The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/
  6. Including US cities Berkeley: https://www.theclimatemobilization.org/blog/2018/6/13/berkeley-unanimously-declaresclimate-emergencyand Hoboken: https://www.theclimatemobilization.org/blog/2018/4/25/hoboken-resolves-tomobilize, and the C40 cities: https://www.c40.org/other/deadline-2020
  7. Bristol declares climate emergency: https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/bristol-declares-climate-emergency-and-pledges-to-become-carbon-neutral-by-2030/
  8. Climate emergency declared in Stroud: https://www.gazetteseries.co.uk/news/17243256.climate-emergency-declared-how-councillors-plan-to-tackle-it/
  9. Scope 1, 2 and 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol explained: https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/faqs/services/scope-3-indirect-carbon-emissions