A Tory council has declared a ‘climate emergency’. No, really.

Theresa May
Steve Topple

A Conservative-led council has officially declared that there is a state of “climate emergency”. Surprising? Kind of. But it was two local Green Party councillors who forced the Tories’ hands.

Climate emergency

On Monday 7 January, Scarborough Borough Council passed a motion declaring a climate emergency. As Yorkshire Coast Radio reported, it was tabled [pdf, p3] by two Green Party councillors. Mark Vesey and Dilys Cluer said that the council should [pdf, p2]:

  • Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’.
  • Pledge to do everything within the Council’s power to make the Borough of Scarborough carbon neutral by 2030.
  • Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible.
  • Work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5°C.
  • Continue to work with partners across the borough and region to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans.
  • Submit a bid as part of the Council’s budget setting process for an additional £80,000 to fund a ‘Sustainability’ Officer Post for a two year period to champion the scoping and delivery of the Borough Council’s Carbon Neutral 2030 commitment.
Twitter reacts

Social media welcomed the motion passing:

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The Green Party was rather pleased with the news:

People made their presence felt outside the council meeting as well:

But Scarborough is not the first council to declare a climate emergency.

As Green World reported, it is the eleventh council to pass such a motion. Bristol got the ball rolling, with the Forest of Dean then Brighton and Hove following suit. The common denominator? They all have Green councillors.

But the motion in Scarborough could have several implications.

Frack off

While Scarborough Borough Council has not received any applications for fracking, its website notes that:

In any event, such applications would not be submitted to this Council, and would fall under the remit of North Yorkshire County Council.

With the recent revelation during a court case that councils are effectively free to reject fracking applications on the grounds of climate change, this could put Scarborough at odds with North Yorkshire council; not least due to fracking’s links to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Tories at war?

Moreover, a Conservative-led council taking this action sets it against its central government colleagues. As The Canary has previously reported, campaign group Plan B believes that the Conservative government isn’t doing enough to tackle climate breakdown. And the independent Committee on Climate Change believes that government policy does not match the targets set by the Paris Agreement. So Scarborough Tories seem to be more aware of the very real threat of climate catastrophe than their Westminster counterparts.

Once again, the Green Party is leading the way when it comes to climate breakdown. And interestingly on this occasion, the Tories are seemingly keeping pace.

Featured image via RT UK – YouTube

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