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Motion to declare a Climate Emergency
Full Council notes:
Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the
impacts of which are being felt around the world. Global temperatures
have already increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm). This
far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity;
In order to reduce the chance of runaway Global Warming and limit
the effects of Climate Breakdown, it is imperative that we as a species
reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from their current
6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as
Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own.
Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc., to
make low carbon living easier and the new norm;
Carbon emissions result from both production and consumption;
Cheltenham Borough Council has already shown foresight and
leadership when it comes to addressing the issue of Climate
Breakdown, having led on recycling issues, delivered a local plan with
strong environmental policies and through promoting sustainable
transport options.
Unfortunately, while current plans and actions locally are making a
difference, they are not enough. The world is on track to overshoot
the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit before 2050;
The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published
last month, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to
cause compared to a 1.5°C rise, and told us that limiting Global
Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from
national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector,
indigenous peoples and local communities;
Councils around the world are responding by declaring a ‘Climate
Emergency’ and committing resources to address this emergency.
Full Council believes that:
All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the
negative impacts of Climate Breakdown, and local governments that
recognise this should not wait for their national governments to
change their policies. It is important for the residents of Cheltenham
and the UK that all settlements commit to carbon neutrality as quickly
as possible;
Urban areas like Cheltenham are uniquely placed to lead in reducing
carbon emissions, as they are in many ways easier to decarbonise
than rural areas – for example because of their capacity for heat
networks and mass transit;
The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so
severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s
number one priority; and,
Bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new
jobs, economic savings and market opportunities (as well as improved
well-being for people worldwide).
Full Council calls on the Cabinet to:
Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’;
Pledge to make Cheltenham carbon neutral by 2030, taking into
account both production and consumption emissions;
Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the
2030 target possible;
Work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally)
to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global
Warming to less than 1.5°C;
Continue to work with partners across the town, county and region to
deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans;
Report to Full Council within six months with the actions the Council
will take to address this emergency

References: Fossil CO2 & GHG emissions of all world countries, 2017: 2016&dst=GHGpc World Resources Institute: The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC: Including US cities Berkeley: and Hoboken:, and the C40 cities: Scope 1, 2 and 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol explained: indirect-carbon-emissions