Chelmsford City Council have declared a climate and ecology emergency. The move comes as a growing number of UK councils have formally recognised the urgent need to reduce global temperature increases if we are to avert major disaster.
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a 'Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.' The report describes the enormous harm that a 2°C average rise in global temperatures is likely to cause, including heatwaves, flooding and the loss of most coral reefs. Currently, the world is headed for a 3-4°C rise.
However, the report also confirms that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would be enough to avoid or reduce this damage. The Panel stated that this is still possible, with ambitious action from national authorities, civil society and the private sector. In May, Parliament declared a climate emergency and the government has set a target of reducing the UK's carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
Councillor Stephen Robinson, leader of the council, seconded the motion proposed by councillor Rose Moore, which was unanimously voted through. Alongside the declaration, Cllr Moore asked the Council to pledge to reduce its own carbon emissions to net zero by 2030, which was also approved together with a number of practical actions to achieve this.
Councillor Robinson said, "The future of the world is in our hands, right now, and we all have a responsibility to act on these very real warnings. Of all the projected impacts of global warming, flooding is particularly likely to affect Chelmsford and a rise in sea level will have a huge effect on Essex as a coastal county.
"I used to regularly take my son to the coast at Maldon. His children will be unable to do that if polar ice caps melt - almost all of current Essex will be under water!
"This is not just a problem for national governments to deal with: local authorities like Chelmsford City Council have a moral duty to take local action, to protect the long-term wellbeing of our residents and to work with others.
"Residents can expect a number of practical measures and schemes to be announced this year to reduce emissions and protect the environment in our area."
Chelmsford joins 115 other first- and second-tier councils who have passed Climate Emergency motions, 71 of which have also set a target date of net zero carbon by 2030.
This article is based on a press release from Chelmsford City Council.
Image: Fourthandfifteen, Flickr.