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Council's 2050 carbon-neutral target criticised

Buckinghamshire councillors will vote on a motion on climate action today (Weds).

Published by Dan Gooding at 5:54am 15th July 2020. 4-minute read.

Council's 2050 carbon-neutral target criticised

Extinction Rebellion say the target being set by Buckinghamshire's council to be carbon neutral is 'far too late'.

A motion goes in front of councillors this afternoon, setting a date of 2050 for the authority to have no carbon emissions.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones sits on the all-party parliamentary committee on air pollution - he's not impressed:

"Something like 167 councils in the UK have chosen 2030 as the date by which they are going to go carbon neutral.

"Of those councils, 34 are Conservative so it is perfectly possible to be both blue and green on this issue."

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Alan Thawley said, on behalf of Aylesbury Vale Extinction Rebellion:

"With the threat of runaway climate change increasing every day, we strongly believe that 2050 is far too late and that Buckinghamshire should follow the example set by our neighbours in Oxfordshire with a 2030 net-zero target.

"While the pandemic emergency has brought terrible tragedy and global economic impacts, the emergency of the climate and ecological crises are of completely different magnitude. And the next five years are critical."

Green Energy - Wind Turbine

As the Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change said last month: 'COVID-19 can be [must be] an historic turning point in tackling the global climate crisis... The Paris Agreement targets a global temperature rise threshold of well below 2°C, ideally 1.5°C, but current global plans give only a 50% chance of meeting 3°C.'

The Bucks Council motion says:

Council therefore proposes that the Cabinet produce proposals to work alongside national Government with the objective to achieve net carbon zero for Buckinghamshire as a whole by 2050.

The council should also evaluate reaching ‘net zero’ for its own emissions no later than 2050 and possibly before this, potentially by 2030, subject to resources.

Proposals include providing sustainable transport, new planning guidance to ensure energy efficiency, more tree planting and working with suppliers to 'develop a pathway to zero carbon emissions'.

Bill Chapple OBE, Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change said:

“It is categorically not the case that the new Buckinghamshire Council lacks ambition in regard to climate change and a huge amount of work is already ongoing to examine how the county can become carbon neutral. 

“The former county and district councils had previously set different carbon neutral targets so it’s absolutely right that the new Buckinghamshire Council considers the issue through the notice of motion discussion at the full Council meeting.

"The motion being proposed sets out an ambitious and wide ranging set of proposals which will help reduce carbon emissions across Buckinghamshire, including the Council’s own emissions but also from areas we can influence. 

“We are proposing to evaluate how the Council might reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, but we need to understand the resources and other implication required to reach net-zero 20 years ahead of the rest of the UK, before committing to do so.”

But those that are sceptical of the plans say there isn't enough ambition here.

Bucks / Buckinghamshire Council

ER Aylesbury Vale added:

"We therefore call on our councillors, whatever their political affiliation, to recognise the level of ambition that is required, and the focused action that is needed in response.

"We urge them to support amendments to the Motion, such as that tabled by the Green Party councillor David Lyons, that would ensure the new council sets a target of 2030 - a date that had already received cross-party support from the old Aylesbury Vale District Council and Chiltern Council."

The group say they appreciate that the council's resources are stretched and that it has had a lot to deal with during the pandemic, but in order to safeguard our children and grandchildren's future, there can be no higher priority than urgent action on climate change.

They argue that every pound spent that does not consider the impact on carbon emissions is a pound 'not only wasted, but a pound that contributes to the destruction of all our futures'.  

The motion will be put forward at the full council meeting this afternoon at 4pm.

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