SHARP divisions have emerged at Warwickshire County Council after proposals to further tackle climate change were turned down by the ruling Conservatives.
The Green Party and Liberal Democrats put forward joint proposals aimed at strengthening the council’s action in areas such as reducing transport emissions, building standards, stopping investing pension money in fossil fuels, investing more in green skills and bringing forward the commitment – declared by the council in 2019 – to becoming a climate neutral council from 2030 to 2025, and the whole county, from 2050 to 2033.
The proposals follow an International Panel on Climate Change report which highlighted not enough was being done to avoid catastrophic weather events.
But a series of Conservative speakers argued the plans were unfeasible and too costly, and claimed the council was already taking sufficient action.
Green councillor Will Roberts, who proposed the plans, said: “I found the ruling Conservatives’ complacency and defeatism staggering.
“One Conservative said ‘what more can we do? Warwickshire is already green and clean.’ The Conservative portfolio holder said that ‘this motion is premature’. And the Conservative’s Finance cabinet member stood up and said that the evidence for climate change is ‘not really there’.
“The picture is clear – the fire alarm is sounding, but the Conservatives are too busy trying to simultaneously stick their fingers in their ears whilst patting themselves on the back to be able to steer the ship and protect Warwickshire for future generations.
“We can successfully prepare for the extreme weather like the increased flooding we face and minimise climate change, but we’re going to need some leadership and it isn’t coming from the Conservatives at the moment.”
The proposals were unanimously voted down by the Conservatives.
WCC leader Izzi Seccombe responded to the motion: “Views extend from one end to the other end and I think it would be timely and decent to recognise that.
“It’s very difficult to see there’s absolutely right and absolutely wrong in this because that’s why we are here – democratically, to decide a policy for the future of our residents in Warwickshire that considers the impact of change and the cost and how we balance what we must do now to look after those in hospital and care homes, but also trying to create a future that’s going to be good and decent quality for families.
“And I think we can do that, we can do it well in a measured way. It may not be quick enough for some it may be too fast for others but actually we are doing extremely well and I’m very proud of the work that has gone on and of the officers who engage in this work to try to give ourselves a better future.”
Coun Seccombe added the council had been working for many years towards reducing its carbon footprint. She described actions currently taking place in the county including piloting a national biodiversity offset programme.
She also described Warwick University’s ‘innovation’ in its role towards a ‘second industrial revolution’.
To the councillors supporting the proposals she added: “You need to take people with you. If you try to drive a coach and horses through we will leave people behind and ultimately your goal should be to take people with you. Do that by a measured and mannered way, not by pushing uncosted, unreasonable pressures on the people of Warwickshire.”