An emergency working group tasked with taking on Glasgow’s fight against climate change will be led by Councillor Martha Wardrop.
A councillor for the Hillhead ward, Councillor Wardrop was appointed to the role of chair of the group following agreement at a meeting of the council’s Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Policy Committee.
The Climate Emergency Working Group has been established by the council in recognition of the gravity of the situation facing the world in the age of climate change. A recent report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that there may only be 12 years in which to limit global warning to a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees centigrade.
The report indicated it may still be just about possible to keep global warming within safe limits, but major commitments are needed by government, businesses and communities, with time rapidly running out. A separate report by Climate Ready Clyde recently identified major roads, bridges, rail lines and hospitals in Glasgow area are at significant risk of being damaged or closed by climate change.
To mitigate the impact of climate change, Glasgow is currently aiming to become a carbon neutral city by 2037 while the Climate Change Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament is promoting a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050. As part of a wide ranging remit, the Climate Emergency Working Group will look at what needs to be done to meet the 2037 carbon neutral commitment, but also how the 2037 target could be brought forward.
Councillor Wardrop welcomed the creation of the working group as a step in the right direction, but was clear that the impending climate crisis leaves little room for manoeuvre.
Councillor Wardrop said: “If we don’t act now and have substantial reductions in climate emissions over the next decade it will be next to impossible to keep global warming to just 1.5C. Glasgow is making progress to reduce emissions but the message from the IPCC is that we all need to up our game rapidly to avoid climate breakdown.
“The council’s own strategic plan has set a target of being carbon neutral by 2037 and we need to seek ways of achieving that sooner. As a council we must do everything we can to avoid the devastation that is likely to be caused by the current rate of climate change.
“The working group will look for best practice where ever we can find it, but it is already clear that the council and all sectors of the city economy must play their part so we can reach zero emissions as soon as possible.”
It is intended that the working group will have cross party representation, but it is anticipated that members will be drawn from organisations outside the council such as third sector bodies and also other community voices. The group has been given until the end of the council’s summer recess at the beginning of August to consider the issues and make their recommendations to the Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Policy Committee.
Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convenor for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, said the short life of the Climate Emergency Working Group reflects the need to accelerate the city’s action on climate change. She added that she fully expected the group to go beyond the current demands for action on carbon emissions.
Councillor Richardson said: “Cities have a responsibility to lead on climate change, and we want to ensure Glasgow plays its part. The IPPC report is stark in its assessment of the challenges facing the planet and the staggering level of action that is required. The clock is ticking and we now have no choice but to treat climate change as the emergency it is.
“Glasgow continues to make significant progress and although we have achieved our emissions reduction target for 2020 ahead of schedule, we must do more. The working group now gives the city a chance to put the issue of climate change immediately into sharp focus. I expect the group’s final recommendations to be challenging and difficult, but ultimately to point the way ahead.”
More details on the background and remit for the Climate Emergency Working Group can be found in the paper to the Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Policy Committee.