Council addresses climate change emergency

Published: Wednesday 25 September 2019

political leaders, trade unionists and pupils from Hamilton Grammar signing a copy of the motion at the Council’s Hamilton HQ on Wednesday 25 September 2019

The council has agreed to take action to help tackle “the serious and immediate threat of climate change”.

Councillors from across political groups have joined forces with local school children and trade unionists to sign a pledge that South Lanarkshire would lead the way in tackling the global problem.

A motion was passed unanimously at today's meeting of the full Council to build on the council’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Strategy by accelerating the timescales. And it was also agreed to plan to meet or exceed the national targets for net zero emissions by 2045 for Scotland and 2050 for the UK as a whole.

A Committee on Climate Change and Sustainability will also be established to oversee work across the council and to promote initiatives to engage and commit the public to also take action.

Council Leader John Ross said: “The gathering of world leaders at the United Nations this week to debate climate change, and in particular the protests of Greta Thunberg and other activists, have once again brought this important subject into focus.

“All the scientific evidence is clear – mankind’s actions have led to global warming. There is a duty on all of us to take whatever remedial action we can.

"This is a clear and present danger to all of us, and the generations to come will not forgive us if we do not act. That is why I am proud that South Lanarkshire Council will continue to lead the way in the mission to be net zero in our emissions.”

The motion proposed by Councillor Julia Marrs and seconded by Councillor Peter Craig stated:

  • Following both the Scottish and UK Governments declaring a climate emergency and setting new net-zero emission targets of 2050 for the whole of the UK and 2045 for Scotland, South Lanarkshire Council acknowledges the serious and immediate threat of climate change
  • Irrefutable scientific evidence now points to an unavoidable 1.5oC warming happening as early as 2030 and the pace of action needs to be accelerated to stop global temperature rising above 1.5oC as this will have potentially devastating consequences for people and nature here and around the world
  • Every citizen, organisation and government needs to work collectively to accelerate the actions needed to future-proof our planet for current and subsequent generations
  • As large organisations with thousands of employees and service users, local councils have a vital role in leading and influencing action on tackling climate change in their local area, particularly supporting the vulnerable people and communities most affected by climate change
  • The council is recognised for its prominent role in South Lanarkshire to reduce carbon emissions and be more resilient to the impacts of climate change. It has a robust and valid Sustainable Development and Climate Change Strategy which outlines the Council’s approach towards contributing to a carbon neutral society
  • However, we will have to accelerate our pace of delivering action in light of the Scottish and UK Governments’ declaration of a climate emergency

The Council therefore agrees:

  • To instruct officers to review climate change actions proposed within the Strategy’s Action Plan and set new timescales reflecting the growing urgency of the climate change challenge to meet or exceed the new national targets for Scotland
  • To establish a Committee on Climate Change and Sustainability to oversee climate change work across the Council (and which would replace the current Sustainable Development Member Officer Working Group and other appropriate bodies), and to work with community planning partners, the business community, third sector, trades unions and local citizens to accelerate climate change action to benefit our local area and contribute to addressing the global climate emergency
  • To publicise a number of attractive initiatives to engage and commit the public to action on climate change (such as green community planting schemes, solar power initiatives, safe routes to school or regional food initiatives which reduce the carbon footprint)
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