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Council backs Declaration and Bill to tackle climate change

19 July 2022

On the hottest day on record for the UK, members of Cambridgeshire County Council have agreed to sign a declaration which will help put climate change and the natural environment and the very urgent need for action at the forefront of the government’s agenda.

At today’s Full Council meeting members agreed that the council should sign the Nature and Climate Declaration, which calls for the UK to proceed further and faster in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and restoring the natural world.

The Declaration was launched in Parliament in May and asks members of the public, elected representatives across all parties and all layers of government to add their names.

Full Council also agreed to support the Climate and Ecology Bill 2022, which is now in its second reading in Parliament.

The Bill was written by scientists, experts, and campaigners and was first introduced in Parliament by Caroline Lucas MP in September 2020 as the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, or CEE Bill. It has now morphed into the Climate and Ecology Bill 2022 and has the backing of over 150 parliamentarians representing all major political parties.

Speaking at today’s meeting, Councillor Lorna Dupré, chair of the council’s Environment and Green Investment committee, said: “It seems appropriate that we are receiving this recommendation on what is set to be the UK’s hottest day on record.

“Climate change and biodiversity are the two biggest issues of our time and the risks of delayed action are well recognised and severe.

“The Declaration asks the UK Government to deal with these climate and nature risks by fulfilling the UK’s fair share of emission reductions to ensure that the average global temperature increase will not exceed 1.5 degrees; halting and reversing biodiversity decline by 2030; and delivering a more ambitious and integrated environmental protection and decarbonisation plan.

“The Climate and Ecology Bill is a plan to address the full extent of the climate change and nature crisis by placing a duty on the Secretary of State to achieve nature and climate targets.

“The Declaration and the Bill seek to move the government towards that clear climate leadership. Together they are powerful measures, and the Environment and Green Investment Committee has therefore almost unanimously recommended this Council to publicly endorse them.”

Councillor Nick Gay, vice chair of the Environment and Green Investment Committee, added: “What we see outside today is completely terrifying and gives us a glimpse of what the future might be.”

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Dupré added: “I am pleased that members agreed to sign the Declaration and to support the Climate and Ecology Bill 2022. In light of today’s coverage on the Government’s net zero strategy not including targets to ensure delivery, this decision by Council will lead to strong targets being set for this very important agenda.”

In May 2019 the council declared a Climate and Environment Emergency and acknowledged its role as a caretaker of the environment for future generations. It also recognised that all governments (national, regional, and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of environmental change by cutting carbon emissions, protecting biodiversity, and reducing pollution.

The cross-party declaration is asking the UK Government to take a number of important actions. Zero Hour is urging the government to consider these recommendations in advance of the UK Climate Change Summit, COP27, in November.

The Climate and Ecology Bill 2022 is a plan for a new UK law that addresses the full extent of the climate change and nature crisis in line with the most up to date science.

The Bill will look to place a duty on the Secretary of State to achieve both a climate and a nature target. The climate target will be in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement limiting the UK’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions at a rate consistent with limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius.

The nature target is to ensure the UK’s contribution to the degradation and loss of nature is halted and reversed and that the abundance of species and habitats must be increased so that by 2030 our natural world is visibly and measurably on the path to recovery.