5th Jul, 2022

PICTURE SPECIAL - Protesters call on Coventry City Council to 'declare a Climate Emergency'

A PROTEST was held outside Coventry City Council House after Green councillor Stephen Gray was unable to put forward a motion calling on the authority to declare a climate emergency.

Coun Stephen Gray addresses the crowd. Picture by Marcus Mingins 2522003MMR4 copyright Bullivant Media

Coun Gray planned to submit the document for discussion at this week’s meeting after being told it would be okay, as long as it was seconded.

Because he is the only Green, a Conservative member agreed in writing to second it.

But then officers reversed their advice after the deadline for submissions but before the agenda was published meaning his motion was left off.

Coun Gray said it was important and urgent for the city council to act because Coventry was ‘lagging behind almost every other council in the country on the issue’.

Voices that need listening to. Picture by Marcus Mingins 2522003MMR6 copyright Bullivant Media

“I was told at the last possible minute the motion would not be allowed on the agenda, even though council staff had repeatedly confirmed their earlier advice and I had followed all the procedures they gave me.

“I am hugely disappointed, and somewhat angry, at this last-minute change of mind, as are other Green Party members and environmental activists from other groups.”

He added the protest was both at the council’s refusal to discuss the ‘most important issue of our lifetime’ and the last-minute change to the agenda.

The elephant in the room. Picture by Marcus Mingins 2522003MMR2 copyright Bullivant Media

According to the Local Government Association, 300 UK councils have now declared a climate emergency.

Coventry City Council did commit to addressing climate change in a motion in 2019 but stopped short of declaring a climate emergency.

In his motion, Coun Gray set out the council should ‘declare a climate emergency which required urgent action to make Coventry a carbon neutral city by 2041’.

Protesters and banners gather in Coventry. Picture by Marcus Mingins 2522003MMR7 copyright Bullivant Media

It also called for a robust climate action plan which addressed both the council’s own emissions and emissions from Coventry as a whole, with the utmost urgency.

And it suggested grassroots activists were worked with to ensure the climate action plan benefitted from their extensive knowledge and experience.

On Monday, a Council

Picture by Marcus Mingins. Copyright Bullivant Media.

spokesperson said, “The council’s constitution sets out how motions on notice for debate will be handled and includes measures to prevent a proliferation of motions by limiting the number of motions to one per political group.”

 

He added a review had shown the wording in the constitution did need clarifying to ensure the position regarding motions received by councillors not in a political group was made clear.

Arrangements to progress this through the Constitutional Advisory Panel and council have been put in place ahead of the next meeting.

“However, until this has been resolved, the decision was made to accept one motion from each of the political groups.”

Coun Gray’s motion in full – ‘Declaring a Climate Emergency’

Coventry City Council notes:

That the impacts of climate breakdown are already causing serious damage around the world:

That 197 countries, including the UK, agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact at the end of the COP26 talks held in the UK between 31st October and 12th November 2021;

That the UK government’s Sixth Carbon Budget set in law a climate change target

proposing to cut emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels;

That the West Midlands Combined Authority has a target of becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2041;

That an overwhelming majority of councils in the UK have now declared a Climate Emergency, and that around 80 per cent of UK councils now have a climate change action plan;

That three years after we acknowledged (but did not formally declare) a climate emergency, we still have no climate action plan;

That grassroots environmental activists have protested about being excluded from the recent Coventry and Warwickshire Climate Summit and from the Coventry Climate Change Board;

That strong policies to cut emissions also have associated health, wellbeing, and economic benefits;

To facilitate the reduction of carbon emissions, Coventry City Council resolves to:

Declare a Climate Emergency that requires urgent action to make Coventry a carbon neutral city by 2041;

Create a robust climate action plan, which addresses both the council’s own emissions and emissions from Coventry as a whole, with the utmost urgency;

Actively engage with grassroots activists to ensure that the climate action plan benefits from their extensive knowledge and experience;

Use our unique role of community leadership to increase awareness among Coventry residents and organisations of the actions required to address the Climate Emergency;

Actively assist Coventry businesses, co-operatives, charities, and other organisations in obtaining funding to reduce their own carbon emissions, and to assist Coventry residents in reducing theirs.

 

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