“Not the right time to declare a climate emergency” – East Yorkshire councillors


County councillors in East Yorkshire have rejected calls to declare a climate emergency for a second time.

They voted overwhelmingly today against a motion to recognise the urgency of the climate crisis and the council’s duty of leadership in the community.

Climate campaigners, including opponents of onshore oil and gas drilling, gathered outside the meeting in Beverley to support the motion.

But the council’s deputy leader, Mike Stathers (Conservative), said:

“Today is not the time to accept [this motion]. It would be premature. I therefore urge members to reject the motion, not because it’s not right, not because it’s improper, but simply because it’s not the right time.”

Cllr Mike Stathers ERYC

Cllr Mike Stathers. Photo: East Riding of Yorkshire Council webcast

He said East Yorkshire was “ahead of the game” on tackling climate change and had been rolling out a strategic plan “for some time with significant success”.

Some authorities that had declared a climate emergency “are still sucking their thumbs wondering what to do next”, he said.

The chair of East Yorkshire’s climate review panel, Cllr Mike Medini (Conservative), urged councillors to wait for a report on how the council could reduce its carbon emissions.

But Cllr Andy Walker (Yorkshire Party), the author of the motion, said the declaration was about the council’s leadership role in the community.

Cllr Andy Walker ERYC

Cllr Andy Walker. Photo: East Riding of Yorkshire Council webcast

East Yorkshire was one of the highest emitting local authorities in the UK, he said.

Carbon dioxide emissions had fallen by more than a quarter from 2005-2017, he said, but this was below the regional and national average.

“We are amongst the highest emitters and the least improved.

“To make this declaration is to leave no place for doubt, cynicism or denial. This is a question that councils up and down the land are considering and it is clear that this council is in a rapidly shrinking minority.”

He described climate change as “the most serious threat to our life on earth”. He said:

“Our way of life needs to change if we are to survive.

“Business as usual is now a redundant phrase.”

Cllr Denis Healy (Liberal Democrats) said there had been “much progress” since the council first refused to declare a climate emergency a year ago:

“The time is right now. It is nonsense to say we’ll wait for the review panel.”

Cllr Geraldine Mathieson (Independent) said the declaration would send a message to residents that the county council was taking climate change seriously and so should they.

Two Conservative councillors, David Jeffreys and Kerri Harold, suggested the motion was “putting the cart before the horse” because the climate change panel had not yet reported. Others suggested that a climate emergency should have been declared earlier.

Cllr David Nolan (Liberal Democrats) said:

“The ice caps are not going to stop melting because the East Riding scrutiny panel is still in progress and has yet to complete its work.

“Climate change will still happen. People deserve to know where the council stands on this.”

In a recorded vote, members rejected the motion by 44 to 16.

A list compiled by Climate Emergency shows that 274 (67%) of district, county, unitary and metropolitan councils had declared a climate emergency up to 6 February 2020.

Declarations are increasingly being referred to in planning decision meetings by opponents of onshore oil and gas applications.

18 replies »

  1. Taking their cue from central government who are signalling that climate change is not a priority. IT IS A PRIORITY. It means we cannot grow food successfully, drink clean water or breathe the air without getting ill, so what the hell IS the priority for East Yorkshire? Perhaps they mean we should get better from coronavirus first (that needs us all to be able to breathe clean air); perhaps they mean brexit (that requires a clear strategy for exiting from high fossil fuel use so that we can continue to breathe clean air); perhaps they mean East Yorkshire benefits from the financial input of fossil fuel companies and therefore cannot afford to turn their backs on monetary income (which will benefit no-one if no-one is well enough to work in these filth-industries, or spend their income in the county because no-one lives there because they cannot breathe the air) … and so on. There are sound economic arguments for dealing with climate change NOW, very few against [edited by moderator] Come on East Yorkshire, you are the only ones sucking your thumbs around here.

    • Deborah

      What did you put that message on this board & how much plastic is used in your every day life cars & fuels etc.

      I am not sure you could live without it?

      There are plans in place for a transition away from carbon emmisions & to reduce emissions but people like you don’t the methods of making the reductions & keeping a stable UK economy either.

      Maybe you can’t have your cake & eat it!

    • {Edited by moderator]

      There is far less fossil fuel interest in East Yorkshire than you present, so hardly the golden fleece to East Yorkshire.

      What little there is to develop, would simply replace material currently sourced from elsewhere, so would not increase carbon footprint at all, but would reduce. Also, by the time it is extracted, due to the antis activities, there are so many years of tax allowance pending that government would wait a long time to benefit.

      And the old argument that continuing to use fossil fuel will somehow stop the march of alternative energy sources is nonsense. Alternative energy sources are advancing at the pace that the public will accept. Are you suggesting they are so inefficient/expensive that the public must be forced to adopt? If you are, you may find you are drummed out of the anti establishment as they continuously strive to show they are so efficient and cheap! If the latter, fossil fuel will disappear.

      But that will not happen for a long time, because that is not the situation. Even Mr. Musk states his vehicles are too expensive for the average consumer.

      • “What little there is to develop, would simply replace material currently sourced from elsewhere, so would not increase carbon footprint at all, but would reduce.” There would only be reduction in a particular locality if savings in transport costs were factored in. Is it not likely however that both the fuel produced locally and that sourced from elsewhere would be used somewhere thereby cancelling out any reduction?
        “And the old argument that continuing to use fossil fuel will somehow stop the march of alternative energy sources is nonsense. Alternative energy sources are advancing at the pace that the public will accept.” If fossil fuels are used they will continue to attract investment: if use is halted abruptly there may well be other unpleasant and unacceptable consequences but at least the investment that secures a future for them will dry up. If money is no longer available for A it might become available for B thereby expediting the transition and reducing the pain.It seems to be getting the balance right that’s the problem, knowing how quickly to cut off and reallocate financial resources. Exploiting new fossil fuel deposits merely obscures this fact and sends the wrong signal to investors. Alternative energy will advance at the pace of government commitment to it. We have to be grateful that this has speeded up but climate continues to press ever more strongly.

        • iaith1720, option B for large investors would be determined on possible returns and is not necessarily guaranteed to be directed towards the renewable industry.

        • iaith1720:

          Read the final report from Wressle. That was pretty damning of your theory. Why does your theory only work for fossil fuel but not other items? Are we to believe that farm shops will simply mean the courgettes in the farm shop will be extra consumption and those trucked up from Spain will have no displacement? I really do get surprised at how nonsensical some threads of anti argument become. If you are trying to stop some people sympathizing with your views you are going about it the right way. Surely there are some points you can make that actually add up? The arithmetic Professor Sir David McKay spoke about still seems to be an issue.

          There is PLENTY of money available for alternative energy investment. Just look at Tesla. A company that has not been profitable but it has attracted $BILLIONS from investors. However, investors will simply invest in non energy investment rather than schemes that look unattractive. Why have private investors kept far away from the Swansea Lagoon? Or, they could just invest in fossil fuel in another country by the press of a button. INEOS have already started that, private investors and corporate investors can do just the same
          Boris could always bring back the “good old days” where a landowner could put up four wind turbines and net a PROFIT of £600k every year, even if the electricity generated was surplus to requirement. That would get a lot of investment-again-but somehow I think that gravy train has left the station, thankfully. (I know of one guy who achieved a double. Buying holes in the ground, making a lot of money from landfill and then plonking said wind turbines on top when the holes were filled! Didn’t ask if any of the filling was spent turbine blades.) And the antis pontificate about fossil fuel subsidy?

          “Alternative energy will advance at the pace of government commitment to it”!!
          Well, only to an extent. Voters decide every five years in UK whether they agree with the pace government sets on most issues. They did in Australia, and an election was lost as a result. If you want your approach to work you first need a country where the population have no control on such matters. North Korea is about the only option for that to work. In the UK it is somewhat different. I think they call it democracy.

          Within a democratic system if your theories were correct iaith 1720, Ms. Lucas would have hundreds of colleagues in Westminster. Arithmetic, again.

    • Deborah

      I am not sure that the East Riding of Yorkshire cannot grow food successfully, drink clean water or breath air without getting ill at present. I have not found this to be the case when I lived their, nor the case in Lincolnshire (which also has yet to declare a climate emergency).

      You say that to get better from coronavirus we need to be able to breath clean air – is dirty air a cause or a cure or both (or is it a virus)?

      You say that Brexit needs a clear strategy to exit from high fossil fuel use, but I do not see the link, one is leaving the EU, the other is reducing our fossil fuel use. So that seems a strange argument. If we were to remain (for some reason I cannot think of) would we have to increase fossil fuel use?

      East Yorkshire, like Lincolnshire and the Humber estuary, benefits from both the fossil fuel industry and the offshore renewable industry (and hydrogen power). I am sure that the area quite likes income from both, and does not need some empty rhetoric to press in with support for renewables (and Lincs is the same).

      Re health – The UK onshore oil industry is quite a healthy place to work (HSE data available on the web).
      You are more likely to die or be ill in the farming industry, or even the textile industry in Leicester – say.
      You are more likely to fall to your death in the onshore wind industry (or the construction industry overall) – say
      You are more likely to be off sick if you work in the public sector it seems and lots of work is put into keeping workers safe in the real filth industry – sewage treatment.

      That leaves the job of finding those who are sucking their thumbs rather than getting things done. Would that be Scarborough Council who have declared a climate emergency – but how they have progressed with it has not graced these pages yet (as presumably they have no oil or gas wells anyone wants to drill).

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