“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. If not now, when? When will it be the ” right time” to acknowledge responsibility for the public safety and future climate security?

  2. “but simply because it’s not the right time.” WTF? There is only one planet Earth but some people seem to live on a different one.

    As for carbon emissions falling, that’s another joke, we’ve simply off-shored them to China. For total carbon emissions for a region to have gone down, economic growth would have had to decline substantially. I don’t recall hearing the consumers of east Yorkshire stopping buying stuff en masse from Amazon/Ebay etc, nor stopping flying abroad or driving cars or filling shops via articulated lorries.

    Although to be fair it doesn’t really matter if declarations of emergency are made, if resources aren’t then focussed totally on that emergency.

    This is a far more accurate statement of affairs:

    and this by chance came in my newsfeed today, it has far more inspiration:

    But I suspect most of those councillors, and many here, aren’t ready for this:

  3. It stinks doesn’t it? It stinks of corruption and plans in the pipeline! They’re not going to get away with this.

  4. It seems odd that parliament has declared a climate emergency but a local authority considers it’s not the right time! This at a time when scientists are constantly stressing the urgency of climate change. These people are not fit for office.

  5. It does stink, yes, a bit like the drilling site at West Newton when the gases were being vented. To East Riding Council’s shame they continue to support the drilling and that’s why they can’t support the motion.

  6. The government policy is a transition to a net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    That does not mean no carbon emissions it means no growth in carbon emissions & there is no national policy.

    Oil & gas will be needed if some people like it or not well beyond 2050 & the UK governments policy oil oil & gas is that more should be produced in the UK where possible which is better for the UK economy & gives a net minus carbon emissions as there are none produced in transporting the oil half way around the world.

    The wind farm technology releases a greenhouse gas called SF6 that does not break down in the atmosphere for one thousand years & was only not banned by the European Union many years ago as there was no alternatives for the Switchgear’s.

    The gas is used widely in the green energy industry as a insulator & could cause many problems in years to come so be careful what you wish for.

  7. Richard Needham is right about “ plans in the pipeline “.
    ERYC has obviously swallowed the bait about “biggest onshore gas reserve” under West Newton B , which is near to the existing national pipeline network.
    Money doesn’t talk it swears.

  8. Oh dear!

    How the local democracy advocates turn upon the local democracy when it goes against their dogma.

    Sometimes it is better to be a bit discrete and NOT expose the hypocrisy, by so doing.

    Maybe no one will remember when local democracy is being advocated? Oh yes they will. And they will recognize the difference between local democracy and mob rule.

  9. Local democracy advocates are not turning upon local democracy, they are trying to point out that the decision arrived at, whilst democratic, is in their opinion mistaken. They are also trying to show that there might have been other interests at play in this decision, and that locally elected politicians remain accountable after election. Are you suggesting that it should be otherwise, Martin? The suggestion of mob rule is an emotive and populist red herring.

    • Oh yes they are, iaith1720.

      It may have missed you out, but local politicians, and national ones, are ALWAYS having to play with other interests when making decisions.


      And, no red herring. When you can not stop a democratic decision from being passed you simply use the gullible to stop that same democracy and the police have to spend their time, and my taxes, trying to control that . Local democracy is selected when it suits and ignored when it does not. Using the populist slogan is rather old now, and it is not an effective smoke screen any more.

      The locals can vote new local politicians, when the chance arrives. That is local democracy. I suspect from the majority this time they will still make decisions that a few squeal about.

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