Leeds City Council to Declare Climate Emergency

Leeds City Council are to declare a full climate emergency in an attempt to tackle climate change.

The council are calling on the Government to provide them with the necessary funding and resources to  become carbon neutral by 2030. This means either balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal, or managing to eliminate it completely, an action that will significantly reduce the impact on climate change.

This decision has come about as hundreds of young people took part in strikes last month, and on Friday 15th March, demanding action on climate change. In February, a crowd of nearly 300 school and sixth form pupils gathered on the steps outside of Leeds Town Hall, despite threats from schools about the consequences of missing lessons, to try and get their voices on the matter heard.

Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council said that even though Leeds does have many schemes as a city that are intended to benefit the climate, they are clearly not sufficient enough and the city needs more funding from the Government to achieve further goals.

She also stresses the actions of the young people, saying that “many young people have expressed their understandable concern about this and it is right they are listened to.”

Sophie Connor, a first year student at the University of Leeds, attended the climate strike outside Leeds Town Hall on Friday afternoon (15th).

She told The Gryphon: “declaring a climate emergency is a big step towards combating climate change for Leeds, but so much more needs to be done in order to make the city more eco-friendly. As a university, we should work more with the Council to make this happen.”

Sophie, like many other people, admits that environmental issues were not necessarily at the forefront of everybody’s minds, especially not with the social and political issues that usually make the headlines.

However, she said that the strikes are a step in the right direction to tackle this: “The actions of our generation across the world in protesting and raising awareness of global warming is something which I find so inspiring and refreshing…seeing both the young and old waving banners and shouting for an end to climate change was an incredible sight!”

Sophie also feels it is essential that the younger generation are listened to, pointing out that at the climate change debate last month, “only 40 MPs out of 650 bothered to show their faces, whilst young people are actively engaged in this issue, taking to the streets to show this.”

Judith Blake said:

“If the motion is agreed we will bring forward proposals for a conversation with everyone in the city on what practical measures are needed as part of an emergency plan to an Executive Board meeting in April.”

She does stress, however, that it is essential the Government provide the necessary funding and power to implement the change that so many young people, and adults, are calling for to help the future of our planet.

The motion is to be submitted by the ruling Labour Administration on Wednesday March 27 at a council meeting.

Image: [Sophie Connor]