Councils across the UK declare climate emergencies and work together in response to the climate crisis with carbon literacy training, green transport, solar power farms, and tree planting.
DECLARING AN EMERGENCY
Lancaster City Councillor and Deputy Leader Kevin Frea has been a central figure behind the growing movement for UK councils to declare a climate and ecological emergency and commit to urgent actions to reduce carbon emissions. Cllr Frea spotted the potential of climate emergency declarations when less than ten councils had declared one, realising that this was an opportunity to make a real difference to an issue of international importance in his sphere of influence. At a time when the UK’s politicians and people are deeply divided, Mr Frea’s innovative and inclusive approach has built a coalition across party lines.
ZERO CARBON BY 2030
In December 2018, when the first UK councils declared a climate emergency, Cllr Frea decided to put his expertise and contacts behind the initiative and committed the council to go zero carbon by 2030. In parallel, he set up Climate Emergency UK, to record and disseminate all climate emergency declarations, thereby encouraging other councils. Cllr Frea’s actions have the potential to improve people’s lives throughout the UK by creating warmer homes, improving air quality, and maintaining better mental health by connecting with nature, as well as reducing the dangers and costs posed by rising temperatures and reduced biodiversity – saving money and lives in the long run. At Cllr Frea’s instigation, his own council has already switched to a renewable energy supplier across all its buildings. He is developing the Council’s Climate Emergency Plan, including planting 1 million trees, building two solar farms, green transport initiatives, and introducing carbon literacy training for staff and residents.
a coordinated CLIMATE EMERGENCY MOVEMENT
Useful resources, advice, and contacts were provided online for councillors and residents wishing to get their council to declare an emergency, as well as for councils wanting to deliver on a declaration. Cllr Frea also organised the UK’s first climate emergency conference, creating an online forum and network through which examples of best practice could be shared. The UK Climate Emergency Network, a special interest group of the Local Government Association, was created to promote and coordinate the growing climate emergency movement, and influence central government. Half of UK authorities have declared an emergency in the past eight months.