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TOPIC: Enfield Council to declare a climate emergency

Enfield Council to declare a climate emergency 09 Jul 2019 23:19 #4687

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[Original article]

Enfield Council is to join a growing list of local authorities across the UK which have made formal declarations of a Climate Emergency.  Enfield's declaration, endorsed by the cabinet on Monday and set to be approved by the full council this evening (Wednesday), commits the council to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, to stop investing in fossil fuel companies, and to maximise use of environmentally friendly products.

enfield council cabinet members sign climate emergency declaration

Cabinet members sign a printed copy of the declaration at the end of their meeting (Photo: David Flint)

To begin implementing the commitments a special Climate Emergency Task Force will be set up, made up of officers and elected members.  It will be headed by the deputy council leader, Ian Barnes.

The cabinet took its decision at a meeting on Monday (8th July), at which it endorsed the recommendations of a report prepared by the Executive Director - Place.  At the end of the meeting, all cabinet members signed a printed copy of the declaration.

The cabinet's decision will be welcome news to several local environmental groups which have been calling for a declaration and for fossil fuels divestment. They include school strikers inspired by Guta Thunberg, local Extinction Rebellion (XR) direct action campaigners, Enfield Green Party, and the Divest Enfield campaign. The role of XR and the school strikers was commented on favourably by some of the cabinet members during the meeting, and in a press release issued after the meeting council leader Nesil Caliskan commented that "The excellent campaigns led by organisations like Extinction Rebellion have brought attention to the desperate need for us all to redouble our efforts and make Enfield genuinely carbon neutral as soon as we possibly can."

The declaration signed by the cabinet commits the council to:

  • Make Enfield Council a carbon neutral organisation by 2030
  • Divest the Council from investments in fossil fuel companies
  • Only use environmentally friendly products where we are able to do so
  • Make our supply chain carbon neutral through ethical procurement
  • Work with local communities and positively promote changing behaviours in Enfield to limit activities scientifically linked to climate change

Pressure on the council to make the declaration has also come from within, notably from Cllr Vicki Pite, who tabled a motion to declare a climate emergency at the January and February council meetings only to have it "guillotined" when time ran out.  She has tabled another motion for tonight's meeting, which this time will be first on the list to be debated.

Cllr Vicki Pite, along with some other councillors, has been calling on the council to make a climate crisis declaration for some time.  This is her reaction to the news:

cllr vicki piteCllr Vicki PiteI’m very pleased and grateful that our Climate Emergency Motion was prioritised for debate in Full Council on Wednesday 10th July and will be the first motion taken.

Third time turned out to be lucky after all, especially as there had been considerable uncertainty about whether the motion would be taken following the surprise announcement of an urgent cabinet meeting to respond to the Climate Change Emergency. At the meeting, Cabinet members declared a Climate Emergency on behalf of the council and made a series of related pledges. We were a little puzzled both by the need for urgency, given that the motion had not been supported in January and February, and the need to declare on behalf of the Local Authority sooner than waiting to hear the voices of elected members, publicly, in debate.

But we will, now, have that opportunity and are, therefore, enormously grateful to Enfield Voices, Enfield Extinction Rebellion, to David Flint from Enfield Green Party, and to countless individuals whose voices were, ultimately, too loud to ignore.

We welcome the change of heart, albeit belatedly, and even more so the public recognition of the achievements of the previous administration in reducing carbon emissions -  which must be built on now, as a matter of urgency. There is no time to waste.

We look forward to playing our part in ensuring that the expectations in the motion are fully realised and help to hold the current administration to account for its promises.

The case for local authorities declaring climate emergencies, and the ways in which they can take effective measures to respond to the climate crisis, were the subject of an online interview in which Francis Sealey of Enfield Voices talks to local activists from the Green Party and Extinction Rebellion - see the box below.

"Business as usual is not going to cut it"

In a "webinar" (online interview) recorded last week Francis Sealey of Enfield Voices and GlobalNet21 questions two local climate crisis activists about the ways in which a local authority such as Enfield Council should be playing its part.

The interviewees are David Flint from Enfield Green Party and Elaine Graham Leigh from Extinction Rebellion Enfield.

At the time of the interview the report on responding to climate change had been published but the cabinet meeting had not yet taken place.

Links

Council declares climate emergency (News item on council website)

Response to climate change emergency (paper prepared for cabinet meeting on 8th July and council meeting on 10th July)

Motions on tonight's council meeting agenda (Cllr Pite's motion is No 2 but will be taken first)

Full agenda for tonight's council meeting

Extinction Rebellion Enfield

Divest Enfield

Enfield Green Party 

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Enfield Council to declare a climate emergency 10 Jul 2019 22:29 #4688

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The news from the Civic Centre is that the Cabinet's report on responding to the climate emergency was accepted. One Conservative councillor voted against, the other Conservatives abstained.

The council voted to move Vicki Pite's motion to the front of the queue and it was debated and passed. Labour councillors voted for it, Conservatives abstained.

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Enfield Council to declare a climate emergency 11 Jul 2019 11:34 #4691

That's the easy bit. Now we have to ensure that they draw up a plan to achieve zero carbon, both for the buildings, vehicles and anything else under council control, and - by encouragement, persuasion and maybe even force - for the emissions from all 300,000+ citizens and hundreds of businesses.

That's going to be a tall order even if the council is fully committed, which I doubt is yet the case - they did have to be pushed into delaring an emergency in the first place. Holding them to account for the delivery of what they have promised will be the task of those of us who are fully committed to stopping climate heating.

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