COVENTRY council’s pledge to tackle climate change in response to ‘climate emergency’ protests has been attacked for falling short of campaigners’ demands.
Labour cabinet member for jobs and regeneration Councillor Jim O’Boyle forwarded a motion at Tuesday’s (June 18) full council meeting.
He also set out ambitions for Coventry to become a net zero emissions city.
The council passed the motion committing to ‘addressing the issue of climate change’ with a range of existing measures.
Coun O’Boyle said his intention was to reach ‘net’ zero emissions before national targets of 2050, although he did not set an exact date and the motion before council fell short of such a measure.
Net zero emissions means carbon emissions being balanced by carbon removal.
But campaigners and climate protesters have dismissed the motion and the debate as too little, too late.
Coun O’Boyle said Coventry can become the UK’s ‘Climate Change City’.
He praised development in public transport, green energy, electric battery technology and the city’s manufacturing base.
Coun O’Boyle said: “We know the effects of climate change – we are seeing them all around us every day.
“Not just on the news and in far-off countries, but here in Coventry.
“Climate change is here and it’s not going away – it’s up to us all to tackle it and the time to take action is now.
“As a council and as a city we must not only act, but be seen to act and encourage – or force – others to act wherever we can.
“Now is the perfect time for our council to take a stand.
“Coventry has always led the way with regards to sustainability and climate change and we want to continue that work to become a green low carbon city.
“Back in 2012 we set a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 27.5 per cent by the year 2020 – and we achieved that in 2014.
“We are the UK’s Motor City and we can be the UK’s Climate Change City.
“The current Climate Change Strategy for Coventry ends in 2020. This gives us an opportunity to develop a new strategy in partnership with others across the city – and look to set a date for Coventry to become net carbon zero.
“The national target for that is 2050, but we can, and will, beat that deadline.”
But Stephen Gray from the Coventry Green Party said: “The debate, and the text of the motion they were voting on, is in stark contrast to Birmingham council’s recent debate on the subject.
“In Birmingham the council passed a motion that declared a climate emergency, set a target for the city to be net carbon neutral by 2030, and set out specific action points to reduce their city’s carbon emissions – none of which was in the motion passed this week.
“It is, frankly, an embarrassment that Coventry is lagging so far behind Birmingham on climate change.”
Coventry schoolgirl and climate protester Sadie Aspinall added: “It’s good that they are realising that climate change is a problem, but this does not mean or show that they are going to do anything about it.
“The people in power need to take action now before it’s too late – and 2050 might just be too late!”
University of Warwick professor of global sustainable development Alistair Smith said the debate was ‘largely meaningless’.
He said: “The council needs, or needs to be made, to take far more decisive action, far more quickly.”