Following lobbying by Green councillors the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) passed a motion declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ at its meeting on Friday 19 July. After South Gloucestershire Council’s declaration of a climate emergency on Wednesday 17 July, all of WECA’s constituent councils have now passed similar motions.
Greens expressed support for the news but warned that the declaration of a climate emergency must be followed by real action.
"This declaration must be followed by actual spending plans that support the green economy”
Southville Councillor Steve Clarke, who chairs WECA’s Scrutiny Committee which called for the move, welcomed the news, saying:
“I am delighted that, following the call by the scrutiny committee which I chair, WECA have finally declared a climate emergency. I will now try and ensure that we scrutinise all future decisions and plans made by WECA in the light of this declaration.
“WECA is sitting on large amounts of money and has responsibility for transport, education and skills and housing across the whole region – so this declaration must be followed by actual spending plans that support the green economy and create the future we need. We have declared an emergency; we need to act like it is real.”
"Once you have declared an emergency you will need to act like there is an emergency"
Councillor Clive Stevens submitted a statement to the meeting in which he challenged the regional authority on which of its policies would be reviewed following the declaration. He wrote:
“Perhaps it will be the Joint Transport Plan which I understand still predicts absolute numbers of car journeys to stay the same even by the end of its time period.”
“Or perhaps the first one you will look at will be the West of England Energy Strategy which was deemed so short on detail or action just a few months ago, despite the expensive studies with all their recommendations.”
“Or perhaps it will be the seemingly blind support for Bristol Airport expansion”
“But one thing’s for sure, once you have declared an emergency you will need to act like there is an emergency.”
At a combined authority meeting last month (14 June) Green Councillors Carla Denyer and Martin Fodor had also urged the combined authority to recognise a climate emergency.