At the full council meeting on 14th December, Cherwell District Council considered a motion brought by Green Councillor Ian Middleton to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament.
The Bill, which was tabled in September by Green MP Caroline Lucas, calls for the UK to consider all carbon emissions generated on goods consumed in the UK, including those involved in the manufacture of products abroad. It also includes proposals to protect and regenerate biodiversity, soils, wildlife and insect life in the UK. The Bill demands that we take action on climate change now, rather than relying on new technologies that may be developed in the future to tackle emissions, and advocates the setting up of Citizens Assemblies made up of a cross section of society to work with the government on developing future strategies to tackle climate change.
The motion, seconded by Independent councillor John Broad, called on the council to take these issues into account when developing its own policies, and for other Oxfordshire Councils and MPs to support the cross-party Early Day Motion in Parliament. Layla Moran is the only Oxfordshire MP to have supported it so far and the city council has also voted in favour of support for the Bill.
The motion failed to gain support at Cherwell with all Conservatives voting against and the Labour group abstaining. It was supported by the Progressive Oxfordshire Group on the council of which Ian Middleton is a founder member.
Councillor Ian Middleton comments:
"I was dumbfounded at the response of the Conservatives in so vehemently opposing a bill that sets out to ensure the UK makes a right and proper contribution towards mitigating global climate change. They were openly hostile to the idea, with some councillors making increasingly bizarre comments about the intentions of the motion. They were also strongly opposed to involving the public in these issues through citizen’s assemblies. As usual it seems that the Conservatives talk a lot about localism but are opposed to anything that puts that principle into practice.
"Part of their argument was that this was not something that a local council should be involved with, but the proposals in the Bill are all things that can be included in future council actions, particularly on things like procurement, planning and economic policies. I also feel that part of a local council’s role is to register grass-roots support for these kinds of measures, especially as the resultant government policies will have an impact on all of us and the people we represent.
"As a council that has already passed a climate emergency motion and claims high environmental ideals, I was surprised and disappointed that it did not enough receive support. The Conservatives seemed to see it as a personal affront and sought to turn it into a party-political issue which I hoped could be avoided, as the Bill itself has cross party support and has already received support in other Oxfordshire Local Authorities, including the City Council. I was also surprised that the Labour group abstained, especially given that they sponsored the council’s original climate emergency motion.”
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