Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the Council, proposed a procedural motion to suspend Council Procedure Rule 17.4 regarding the content and length of speeches, providing all members with the opportunity to speak for unlimited time.
Councillor Donald Nannestad, Deputy Leader of the Council, seconded the procedural motion.
Council RESOLVED to suspend Council Procedure Rule 17.4 regarding the content and length of speeches, providing all members with the opportunity to speak for unlimited time.
Councillor Bob Bushell, Portfolio Holder for Remarkable Place, proposed the following motion:
That Council takes note of:
(a) Growing public awareness of climate and environmental crises and widespread concern, not least among young people anxious for their own and others’ future, and as expressed in recent school strikes.
(b) The growing scientific evidence of the extent of the crises, indicated in:
- the IPCC report of 2018 which indicated that the world’s leading climate scientists warned that humanity has only 12 years left in which to cap temperature rises at 1.5oC or face a higher risk of drought, floods and heatwaves;
- the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Eco Systems Services report of May 2019 cites “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide”;
- the Introducing the UK State of Nature Report 2016 where Sir David Attenborough writes “Our wonderful nature is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before”.
and the Council recognises that:
(c) Urgent action to combat the climate and emergencies is essential to protect future wellbeing of all citizens in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, nationally and internationally.
(d) Urgent action is affordable. The expert advice to the Government’s committee on Climate Change affirms that “Macro-modelling suggests GDP costs of a net-zero target are likely to be small and could even be positive”.
(e) The many benefits that accrue from urgent action, including: enhanced wellbeing and health; reduced air pollution; sustainable employment in “green” industries; community energy; enhanced biodiversity and an attractive city environment for residents and visitors.
(f) Local government cannot wait for national government to provide more money and support to reduce emissions and commit to the ambition of carbon neutrality by 2030 at the latest.
(g) The UK Parliament has already approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency; many other Councils in the UK have declared a ‘climate emergency;’ and all governmental (national, regional and local) have a duty to play their part in seeking to limit the negative impacts of climate breakdown.
(h) With the support of the Council, the Lincoln Climate Commission is being set up to provide a strategic forum for championing Lincoln’s transition to a zero carbon and climate resilient future by driving positive action, developing communication strategies and creating the space for collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders, interest groups and partnerships.
(i) The climate and environment emergencies disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable in our society and globally, so action about these emergencies will resonate strongly with the council’s existing agenda to reduce inequality.
(j) Many in business and industry are ready and waiting to take action, and seeking leadership from Councils and from Government.
and that the Council therefore resolves to:
(1) Acknowledge the reality of the climate and environmental crises and commits to urgent emergency action.
(2) Join with Parliament and other Councils in declaring a Climate and Environment Emergency, and commit to the vision of a carbon neutral LINCOLN by 2030 at the latest.
(3) Sign up to a science based carbon reduction target that is consistent with achieving the Paris Agreement of no more than 1.5oC global temperature increase.
(4) Call on central government to provide the funding and powers to make this possible, and ask local MPs to lobby government to achieve this.
(5) Call on Lincolnshire County Council to cooperate with the City and District Councils to enable the City & District Councils to deliver on the carbon neutral vision by 2030, especially in such critical areas as highways & transport, energy, waste, food and health & wellbeing.
(6) Work with partners in the area to deliver carbon reductions and support environmentally sustainable industry, business & employment.
(7) Ask the Lincoln Climate Commission to consider ways of involving all interested people to have a voice through a citizen’s assembly or something that serves this purpose.
(8) Facilitate the work of a Lincoln Climate Commission to drawn upon expertise in the community (industry, commerce, education, health etc.) and general public, to devise a carbon reduction road map with staged targets and policies consistent with carbon neutrality by 2030, and bring a report to the Council’s Executive as soon as practicable.
Councillor Bushell, in presenting the motion, stated that the City Council had the commitment and desire to act on this important issue but acknowledged that it did not have all the answers and that partnership working would be absolutely vital. Councillor Bushell, having visited London whilst school strikes were taking place, met with students on strike on Lincoln’s high street together with the Leader of the Council and the Council’s Sustainability Advocate, who were all very proud of their commitment. He had also spoken to members of the Extinction Rebellion Group, a Lincoln plastic-free campaigning group and other such groups, taking into account their views as part of the motion. Councillor Bushell said that the Council needed to continue to listen and work with key stakeholders on this very important issue.
Councillor Lucinda Preston, Sustainability Advocate, seconded the motion, referring to the iconic image of planet Earth from the Apollo 8 mission which she said was a reminder of how vulnerable the planet was and which she felt should act as an inspiration for action. Councillor Preston made the point that any change, no matter how small or by whom, made a difference and that this motion represented one of those actions which needed to be taken before it was too late, particularly in response to the indisputable evidence surrounding climate change.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the Council, supported the motion and reflected on the world’s leading climate scientists warning that humanity had only 12 years left in which to cap temperature rises at 1.5oC or face a higher risk of drought, floods and heatwaves. It was no surprise to him, therefore, that young people in particular were seeking urgent action and he saluted their courage and desire in that respect. Councillor Metcalfe reminded members that the Council had debated climate change previously in response to the Al Gore film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in 2006. Since then the Council had made good progress but much more progress needed to be made, collectively, in order to address this new threat and challenge. The Climate Change Commission was a model used across the country and Councillor Metcalfe had recently attended a successful meeting of the Lincoln Climate Commission to take that agenda forward. He was of the opinion that this motion provided a significant opportunity for the Council to galvanise its, and others’, efforts, emphasising that the City Council could not do this alone and that a collaborative approach would be required.
Councillor Chris Burke expressed his shame that despite significant knowledge and science being available, humanity had still allowed this situation to develop so significantly. He was proud that the City Council was seeking to take action and hoped this would be reflected across the county.
Councillor Thomas Dyer, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, agreed that action needed to be taken now but highlighted the following actions that the Government had implemented:
- the doubling of maximum fines for littering;
- an 80% reduction in the use of plastic bags since the introduction of charges;
- the reduction of greenhouse gases by 25% since 2010;
- record levels of solar and wind energy usage;
- a world-leading ban on the use of microbeads.
Councillor Dyer recognised that all levels of government needed to get on board to reduce the impact of climate change and other associated environmental issues and that it was right for the City Council to do its bit. He looked forward to working in partnership and was of the view that the Council, with partners, had the power to make significant changes. He was supportive of the motion but highlighted that the City Council itself was going through vast change, particularly regarding the procurement of large contracts and housing development. By way of strengthening the motion, Councillor Dyer proposed an amendment to add the following additional actions to the motion:
· The City of Lincoln Council will establish a member sub-committee which focuses on environmental performance and allows a forum for members to discuss and propose new policy initiatives for the authority to work toward to better meet our environmental ambitions.
· The City of Lincoln Council will halt the use of all avoidable single use plastics. Going forward this requirement will be included in all new tender applications for third party contractors who wish to supply or provide a service to the authority.
· The City of Lincoln Council will ensure that green energy solutions and sustainable construction techniques are used in all new council-built housing developments, or where developers are building houses that will later come into council ownership.
· The City of Lincoln Council will replace all trees lost to their development projects within two others, including a minimum of 25% mature trees.
Councillor Christopher Reid seconded the amendment, highlighting that this was a pressing issue which needed to be tackled head-on and that the amendment would help to do that for Lincoln. With regard to the member sub-group, it was anticipated that this would feed in well with the work of the Lincoln Climate Change Commission. Councillor Reid reported that the Council had built 170 new homes last year and felt that a significant difference would have been made if green energy solutions and sustainable construction techniques had been used. With regard to green spaces, Councillor Reid explained the positive impacts these had on mental health and wellbeing. The amendment sought a replacement scheme for trees lost to development projects, with a minimum of 25% being mature trees. This was to ensure that what the Council did now had an impact now.
Councillor Hilton Spratt, Leader of the Opposition, was of the opinion that the amendment enhanced the original motion and called for its support in order to show an even stronger united approach to the issue.
Councillor Metcalfe responded to the additional actions set out in the amendment, as follows:
· a member sub-committee was unnecessary and not required. This issue was relevant to and impacted all areas of the Council and was therefore a matter for the whole Council;
· single use plastics was an important point and would be the subject of a motion for debate at the next meeting of Council;
· the proposed action regarding green energy solutions and sustainable construction techniques in respect of new council-built housing developments had been worded in such a way as to suggest that this had not been considered before. The Council was already in the process of implementing this agenda as part of its new-build developments;
· the Council already had a policy in place regarding the replacement of trees lost to development and work was taking place on the development of a major tree planting programme for the city.
Councillor Metcalfe concluded that, in his opinion, the amendment did not add anything to the motion.
Councillor Ronald Hills thought that the amendment did enhance the original motion and said that if the Council wanted to properly act on this it should throw everything that it had available at it.
Councillor Gary Hewson highlighted that the Council was coming to the end of its Vision 2020 and would be looking at how to move forward with a new vision up to 2025. He fully expected this issue and the actions contained within the motion and amendment to be reflected as part of the Council’s revised vision and objectives.
Councillor Lucinda Preston, in reference to the suggestion of a member sub-committee, said that environmental concerns should be an integral consideration of what the Council was doing and did not therefore support the proposal. Councillor Preston referred to an all member briefing on housing that had recently been held where green energy solutions and sustainable construction techniques were discussed in respect of new-builds.
Councillor Alan Briggs asked why the suggested action regarding green energy solutions and sustainable construction techniques in new-build developments could not be accepted as part of the motion if the Council was already currently in the process of doing this.
Councillor Bob Bushell, in responding to the amendment, agreed that the amendment highlighted actions which the Council was actively doing already and agreed with the view that it did not benefit or progress the motion at this stage.
Upon being put to the vote, having been proposed and seconded, the amendment was lost.
Voting on the original motion, having been proposed and seconded, it was RESOLVED that the motion be carried.