Climate Local: which way will Conservative councillors vote?

Tonight Reigate and Banstead Borough Council will vote on a recommendation by the Executive NOT to sign up to the ‘Climate Local’ initiative.

Climate Local is an initiative run by the Local Government Association and the Environment Agency to encourage and support local Councils to take action on climate change [1].

I introduced a Motion suggesting that Reigate and Banstead join up at a recent Council meeting and it was seconded by Cllr Kay, the Council’s Deputy Leader.

As Surrey County Council had recently agreed to sign up to Climate Local, I was hopeful that our local Council would too.

However the Council’s Executive (ten Conservative Councillors) have decided not to do so – and will be asking the full Council to ratify this at tonight’s Council meeting.

Why not join Climate Local?

The report recommends not signing up as if it did so, the Council would have to develop an action plan of measures to take in relation to climate change and this would “require significant resources to develop, implement and monitor” [2].

(The report also recognises that projects that reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency often provide financial savings, over time, in addition to the environmental benefits.)

In 2009 the Council adopted a Sustainable Energy Strategy which covered a number of activities. But the new Five-Year Plan 2015-20 does not include priorities in this area. And the Council staff posts with responsibility for implementing climate change related strategies have since been cut.

Surrey County Council takes a different view

When I tabled a similar motion at the Surrey County Council meeting on 8 December 2015, it was supported by all councillors, except the UKIP councillors and one Conservative, who abstained.

As six of the Reigate & Banstead Conservative Councillors are also County Councillors, it will be interesting to see if they vote differently in Reigate and Banstead from in Surrey.

And Hastings divests from fossil fuels

In Hastings last night, Conservative and Labour councillors voted unanimously to pass a motion to divest from any fossil fuel bonds within five years and to put pressure on other Councils to do the same [3].

Hastings Borough Council’s Conservative Group leader, Liam Atkins, said: “It is difficult to argue with the following quote from Desmond Tutu: ‘It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet’.”

I will be disappointed if our local councillors vote not to join Climate Local.

Getting involved would help our Council to capture the opportunities and benefits of action on a changing climate. It could help the Council and residents and local businesses to save on our energy bills, generate income from renewable energy, attract new jobs and investment, reduce flood risks and manage the impacts of extreme weather.

 

Notes:

[1] www.local.gov.uk/climate-local

[2] You can read the Executive’s report, which recommends not signing up, here: https://democracy.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/aksreigate/images/att7068.pdf

[3] http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/local/campaigners-joy-as-hastings-council-agrees-fossil-fuel-divestment-1-7328414

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