Green councillors in Bristol are calling on the city’s Mayor to declare a Climate Emergency and bring forward Bristol’s carbon neutrality target, in a motion submitted to Full Council next week (Tuesday 13th November) by Green Councillor Carla Denyer. The motion is inspired by the recent IPCC report which warned that humanity has 12 years to take emergency action in order to prevent global warming greater than 1.5°C. Above this, the risks to humanity of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty become much greater, impacting on hundreds of millions more people.
The motion is on the agenda and expected to be debated (as it is a ‘silver motion’ which means it is the second motion on the meeting agenda). It notes the progress already made by Bristol Council (meeting its corporate carbon reduction target three years early and committing to making the city carbon neutral by 2050) and argues that as a former European Green Capital, Bristol Council has an important role to play in leading the UK in reducing carbon emissions as fast as possible. It asks the city’s Labour Mayor to declare a Climate Emergency and pledge to make Bristol carbon neutral by 2030 (bringing forward the current target by 20 years), call on national government for more powers and resources to support this, work with partners in Bristol and other governments both in the UK and nationally to prevent climate change above 1.5°C, and to report back in six months on the actions that will be taken to address the emergency.
The IPCC report focusses on the impact that 1.5°C would have on the planet compared to 2°C. Some of the key findings were:
- Insects and plants were almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2°C compared with 1.5°C warming
- Coral populations would be wiped out at 2°C warming but more than 10% would have a chance of surviving at the lower temperature
- Global fish stocks would lose 3 million tonnes at 2°C, twice the decline of 1.5°C, due to lower oxygen levels and greater acidity in the ocean
- Hundreds of millions more people, particularly in less developed countries, would be at risk of climate-related poverty with a 2°C increase
- The global population exposed to water stress would be 50% lower with 1.5°C warming
- At current levels, the world is on course for 3°C of warming
Councillor Carla Denyer explained “We’ve seen the Extinction Rebellion protests in London – across the country people are waking up to the huge threat to human and animal life from runaway global warming. But despite this existential crisis the Government is fast-tracking the expansion of fracking, which will have a huge impact on the environment. We just can’t afford to wait for politicians in Westminster to act – we’re already in a state of climate emergency so my motion is asking that the Council recognises this and takes action now. As a green city in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Bristol has an opportunity and a responsibility to take the lead on climate change.”
David Beasley, a Bristol resident who was at the Extinction Rebellion in London, said:
“Despite all the climate agreements made in the past, carbon emissions are still rising. Our political leaders are still not yet taking this issue seriously. I took part in the protest in London because I feel strongly about putting right what I see as an injustice that's being perpetrated against all living things on the planet. Climate change is an issue that's been important to me for more than thirty years. Back then, the objective of campaigners was get people to understand what climate change was, and why it was such a big problem. I don’t think it ever occurred to us that, once the problem was recognised, politicians would still fail to take effective and timely action. We need urgent action now and I encourage everyone who cares about the future of our planet to write to their councillors asking them to support this motion.”
- If you would like to contact your councillors to ask them to support this motion you can find their contact details here.
- If you would like to submit a statement to Full Council to support the motion, please email your statement to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submitting statements is 12 noon Monday November 12.
- The motion text is attached here: FC_motion_13th_Nov_-_Climate_Emergency.pdf