Applause as Peterborough declares climate emergency and promises to be carbon neutral by 2030

A recent Extinction Rebellion 'die in' in Peterborough. Photo: Extinction Rebellion
A recent Extinction Rebellion 'die in' in Peterborough. Photo: Extinction Rebellion
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Peterborough has declared a climate emergency.

City councillors passed a motion backing the declaration at last night's Full Council meeting (Wednesday).

Leader of the council, Cllr John Holdich, told members; “The impact of climate breakdown has already caused serious, possibly irreversible, damage around the world.

“For years we’ve been told about global warming and the effects on our environment of using fossil fuels and plastics; but the time for talking is over.

“Governments across the planet have a duty to act now, and we must all change our policies accordingly.

“A growing number of UK local authorities have already passed climate emergency motions, but for some years we have claimed Peterborough as the Environmental Capital of the United Kingdom – well now the time has come to prove it.

“Tonight, I am putting a motion to Full Council that commits Peterborough to the following: to declare a climate emergency that requires urgent action.

“To make the council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2030.

“And to achieve 100 per cent clean energy across the council’s full range of functions by 2030.

“This will require us to ensure that all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to zero carbon by 2030."

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Cllr Holdich’s words were applauded by his fellow councillors, and also in the public gallery where a number of Extinction Rebellion climate protesters had gathered.

One councillor, however, while very supportive of the proposals, had a cautionary tale to tell.

Cllr David Over (Conservative) explained: “I voted for tonight’s motion, but I represent the rural ward of Barnack which is made up of six small villages and our attempts at environmental change have not been positive.

“In the past 20 years we’ve tried over and over again to carry out our own small attempts at climate change – most of which, unfortunately, have not been very successful.

“For example, we’ve spent thousands of pounds of public money planting wild flowers, seeds, trees and other green, environmentally friendly projects.

“We have attempted to create natural plant sanctuaries along the roads and pathways of Barnack.

“But in every case, barely a year goes by and somebody has come along, ignorant of what has been done, and either mowed or ploughed the work back into the ground, destroying everything.

“In one case, we even erected stakes outlining the area which was to have been a wildflower corridor from Stamford to Glinton.

“Within weeks this too had been mowed over, and all the flowers, seeds and trees were destroyed.

“I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have policies to improve our environment, of course we want to be a green as we possibly can.

“But our experiences have shown that we have to get these policies correct – it’s no good us planting hundreds of oak trees if the saplings are ploughed into the ground before they have a chance to take root.

“We also support walking and cycling as opposed to using cars, but the overhanging branches and collapsing walls make it impossible for people to walk from Bainton to Barnack, and seemingly nothing is done to change any of this.

“So I say to those protesters who were in the public gallery tonight, we have tried to do our best, but we’ve not had too much success and I think it is down to mindset.

“Over the next few years I hope that people will learn to appreciate much more about the environment and help us to get the smaller, simpler things right first, rather than just talk about the massive global issues.”

City councillors unanimously agreed to adopt the motion.