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Cross-party support as East Herts Council declares a climate emergency





East Herts Council has declared a climate emergency after members voted unanimously to battle greenhouse gas emissions.

The cross-party agreement that the authority must accelerate its moves to an “absolute minimum” carbon footprint by 2027 came as scientists suggested this July has been the world’s warmest month on record.

Some experts believe it could be the warmest month in the past 120,000 years and this week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the planet was entering an "era of global boiling".

Climate change and global warming
Climate change and global warming

There is a consensus in the scientific community that the warming is largely attributable to fossil fuel use.

On Wednesday night (July 26) East Herts members voted to widen the scope of the Green Party and Liberal Democrat-led council’s existing climate change motion.

They agreed: “The consequences of the global temperature increasing by more than 1.5C are so severe that humanity’s number-one priority must be to prevent this from happening.”

Climate change and global warming.
Climate change and global warming.

Under the previous Conservative administration, in 2019 the authority stopped short of declaring a climate emergency but committed East Herts to becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2030.

The Tories cooperated with the drafting of the new motion which obligates the council to cut its carbon footprint to an absolute minimum by 2027 while at the same time identifying a pathway to offset its residual carbon.

This means that by 2027, the council pledges to have a clear plan in place to deliver its services with net zero carbon emissions.

It also commits the authority to publish annual eco-audits for residents and businesses to scrutinise and contribute to, including through an annual meeting. Additionally, the council will advise and assist East Herts residents and businesses so they can limit carbon-producing activities.

Green Party Cllr Tim Hoskin
Green Party Cllr Tim Hoskin

Green Cllr Tim Hoskin, executive member for environmental sustainability, said: “We are pleased to have full council’s support for this motion, acknowledging the urgent nature of the climate crisis.

“We have committed to greater transparency and openness in our journey towards achieving net zero and we look forward to hosting a public meeting, where residents and businesses can engage with us, share their ideas, and collectively shape our path to a more sustainable future.”

His predecessor as the environmental portfolio holder, Conservative Cllr Graham McAndrew, who represents Bishop’s Stortford, said: “We are delighted to embrace this opportunity to re-examine the current status at the start of the new administration, aiming to enhance its robustness and garner greater support.

Cllr Graham McAndrew with solar panels on the roof of Grange Paddocks leisure centre
Cllr Graham McAndrew with solar panels on the roof of Grange Paddocks leisure centre

“It is imperative to focus on the recognition of the challenges before us and our genuine intent to address them, rather than getting caught up in the terminology, whether it be ‘climate change’ or ‘climate emergency’, it’s the substance behind what you do that matters

“By embracing this enhanced version, we demonstrate unity, determination, and a genuine commitment to securing a sustainable and thriving future for our community. Let us work together to make a significant impact and lead by example in addressing the urgent challenges of climate change.”

Labour Cllr Carolyn Redfern and Liberal Democrat Cllr Miriam Swainston
Labour Cllr Carolyn Redfern and Liberal Democrat Cllr Miriam Swainston

Labour’s Cllr Carolyn Redfern paid tribute to Cllr McAndrew’s “commitment” to the issue and backed the new urgency: “It’s been a long time coming and we need to do it as quickly as we possibly can.”

Bishop’s Stortford Liberal Democrat Cllr Miriam Swainston said: “I think it’s really important we’re strengthening what the council has previously done and putting it back in the public eye again.

“Sadly, despite all the current news, a lot of people still aren’t convinced about climate change.”



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