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KCC Rejects Green Motion

Graphic of current membership of Kent County Council, showing in blue dots that Conservatives have 80 seats, Labour in blue dots have seven, LibDem in yellow dots have six, Green have four, with two independent. It was easy for the majority to reject the Green motion.
Kent County Council 2021, by party – graphic by NeorxenoSwang, public domain

At a full meeting of Kent County Council (KCC), the Green and Independent Group proposed, and then withdrew, a motion to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE) currently before Parliament.

The motion called for KCC to promote its support of the CEE Bill, and to write to Kent MPs asking them to show support for the Bill. The Green Group expected some opposition to the Bill but were hoping to be able at least to debate the motion in good faith.

Especially as some KCC members of the Conservative group have supported similar motions at their district councils. And a number of Conservative led councils across the country have also passed the motion.

Motion to Support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
proposed by Steve Campkin, Kent County Councillor for Willesborough

Preamble

Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt in the UK and around the world. Global temperatures have increased by 1°C from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm) and continue to rise. This far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity. The current UK target of net zero by 2050 is not satisfactory because the damage already done will be irreversible. 

Without more significant and sustained action, the world is set to exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit between 2030 and 2040.The increase in harm caused by a rise of 2°C rather than 1.5°C is significant. This is described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C published in October 2018. According to the IPCC, limiting heating 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.

The costs of failing to address this crisis will far outstrip the investments required to prevent it. Investing now will bring many benefits in the form of good jobs, breathable cities and thriving communities.

Council notes that:

  1. This council has  recognised the UK climate emergency;
  2. There is a Bill before Parliament – the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (published as the “Climate and Ecology Bill”) – according to which the Government must develop an emergency strategy that:
    1. requires that the UK plays its fair and proper role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures;
    2. ensures that all the UK’s consumption emissions are accounted for;
    3. includes emissions from aviation and shipping;
    4. protects and restores biodiverse habitats along overseas supply chains;
    5. restores and regenerates the UK’s depleted soils, wildlife habitats and species populations to healthy and robust states, maximising their capacity to absorb CO2 and their resistance to climate heating;
    6. sets up an independent Citizens’ Assembly, representative of the UK’s population, to engage with Parliament and Government and help develop the emergency strategy.
  3. 118 Councils have passed motions in support of the CEE Bill.

Council therefore resolves to:

  1. Support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
  2. Inform the local media of this decision;
  3. Write to local MPs, asking them to support or thanking them for supporting the Bill;  and
  4. Write to the CEE Bill Alliance, the organisers of the campaign for the Bill, expressing its support.

Cabinet Member Tables a Wrecking Amendment

Sadly there was no chance of a debate as Cllr Susan Carey, Cabinet Member for the Environment, immediately proposed an amendment that had not been circulated beforehand. The amendment ripped out all mention of the CEE Bill and replaced it with a declaration to promote the work that the council is already doing, rendering the motion pointless.

Green Cllr Steve Campkin said, “The amendment effectively negated the point of the original motion and amounted to nothing more than the Kent Conservative administration patting themselves on the back and saying ‘jolly good job’. I get the impression that they still just don’t understand what is going on.

“The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill acknowledges the close link between the ecosystem and climate change and the need to repair one to restore the other, as well as the inherent value of the natural world irrespective of its value to us.”