St Albans City and District Council, led by the Liberal Democrats, has agreed unanimously to recognise the climate emergency.
The move was driven by a petition signed by 1,700 residents and lodged with the council on 13 June.
The petition asked the Council to recognise the climate emergency and to do everything in its power to make the whole of St Albans district carbon-neutral by 2030.
The petition was presented by Catherine Ross, trustee of Sustainable St Albans, and Mimi Spiliopoulou, a youth member of activist group Extinction Rebellion.
The motion to recognise the climate emergency was proposed by Chris White, leader of the council and the Lib Dem portfolio holder for climate and environment. It was seconded by Labour’s Mal Pakenham.
Urgent need to take action
During the debate, councillors spoke passionately about the urgent need to take action and for the council to provide the necessary budgets to deal with climate change.
The motion received unanimous support in the council chamber, as well as loud cheers from the large group of environmental campaigners who attended the public meeting, both in the chamber itself and via video link in a separate room owing to the high numbers.
“We often debate problems here in this chamber, but this is not just a problem – it is an emergency,” said Chris White.
“This is more than a declaration, and we have to do some serious work from now on in. We can’t save the planet in St Albans alone but, in common with the many other councils around the country who have also recognised the emergency, we can do our bit and, in fact, we must do everything we can.
Installing more electric charging points
“There are immediate actions we can take, such as reducing single-use plastic right here in the council building. There are medium-term actions we can take, such as installing more electric charging points and, of course, longer-term actions including re-wilding to increase biodiversity, which is incredibly important, and changing the council’s procurement and its fleet of vehicles.
“I am delighted that our motion received unanimous support, and this has shown that there are issues that can unite this council across the political divide. This is one of those issues where we must unite.”
Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the local constituency, commented:
“If I have the opportunity to be the next MP for St Albans, taking urgent action to tackle the climate emergency and ensuring the UK works with our partners in Europe and around the world will be amongst my highest priorities.”
Carbon-free future: council leader Chris White and fellow Lib Dem councillor for St Peter's, Will Tucker