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Bad news on climate change: Alan Bacon

August 4, 2020 3:34 PM

Alan BaconIt was fun and games for the first meeting of the new unitary council on 15 July, but there was bad news for the climate change crisis.

Councillors had to meet virtually because of Covid-19, and the meeting began half an hour late because of inevitable technical problems - not a good start and the technical problems continued throughout. It's not helped either by having 200 councillors taking part - that number is set to reduce to 147 after next May's elections, but it's still too many for all to get a chance to participate properly.
Anyway, as a shadow portfolio holder it was possible for me to ask some questions about what is happening with Covid-19 in Buckinghamshire, especially about care homes and about Test, Track and Trace. So that was useful, but it was frustrating for other opposition members who did not get to ask their questions or make their points.

The major disappointment of the evening, though, was the Council's response to the climate change crisis. Some months ago, Lib Dem councillors succesfully pressed both Chiltern District Council and Chesham Town Council to declare a climate emergency and aim to be carbon neutral by 2030, so we hoped that the new council would do the same.

Instead, the Conservative leader of the council proposed the date of 2050, though this was wrapped up in vague, woolly words like "possibly before this, potentially by 2030, subject to resources". He also excused the feeble target by suggesting that there isn't much we can do anyway because China, India and the USA are the big carbon polluters.

The climate emergency will not wait, so the opposition parties all supported an amendment to make the target 2030 and we pressed successfully for a recorded vote. Sad to say, the Conservatives, including all the Chesham-area Conservatives who were there, did as they were told and voted for 2050.

Too late! Too late! When I switched on the 10 O'Clock News after this nearly five hour meeting, the first item was a report by an international team of climate scientists, led by the Met Office, into the record-breaking temperatures in the Arctic this summer and the likely knock-on effect on the UK. Wake up, Buckinghamshire Council.

This article was published in the correspondence columns of YourChesham.