At B&NES full council on the 24th March 2022, Cllr Sarah Warren, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency and Sustainable Travel gave a report on the B&NES Council’s Climate Emergency actions. The Green Party of BathNES supported this report, however as can be seen in Joanna Wright’s statement the Liberal Democrats could already have done much more.
Let’s remind ourselves of the desperate situation that is taking place on planet earth today. Antarctica is 70 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The Arctic is 50 degrees Fahrenheit above average. This warming has smashed records and shocked scientists. Science has repeatedly warned us of this tipping point. It looks like we just reached it.
Three years ago this Council declared a climate emergency. The report before us appears to show that very little has been done in the last year. Much of the publicity by this Liberal Democrat led administration has focused on the 66% emission reductions on B&NES Council buildings. As council buildings are only 1% of the total number of buildings in this district, the actual figure is 66% of 1%. Now I am not very good at maths, but even I can work out, that is not very much.
The report further states that the Council’s approach to tackling the climate emergency is to discuss the issues at a senior level, informed by specialist consultants, who have been paid to gather data, collect evidence and research and then submit a report. It is quite clear that for the last 3 years there has been much talking and writing reports by consultants, followed by more talking and writing of reports.
This Council does not need another report on what the problem is. It has wasted 3 years in measuring data on what is clearly a well documented subject. Every one of us knows that the world is on fire and we have to use less coal, oil and petrol – in our homes, in our work environments, in how we move around, in how our food is produced.
We know that many families are struggling to heat homes, so where is the workable programme to inform and help people insulate cold damp homes? Without being a well educated wealthy person there is little if any information on how to tackle fuel poverty in B&NES.
We know that many families are paying record prices at the petrol station, because the option to use public transport or cycle are either more expensive or too dangerous.
The actions that this council could already have in place, have been stopped by the Leadership team. A bus gate on North Road would have provided a safe cycling route from the Bath’s valley floor to the plateau where thousands of students live and study, where there are schools and services to be accessed. The carbon emission saving this would have made is enormous and would have improved the finances and health of many. Yet this action has been purposely delayed because this administration is more concerned with local votes than the climate emergency or public health.
Even the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy, Development and Scrutiny Panel has failed to deliver robust and frank conversations. This Liberal Democrat administration has instructed all committee members on this scrutiny panel to send in 2 questions in advance of any meeting. If this administration is so committed to getting to net zero, wouldn’t it be welcoming every question, every suggestion, every conversation. Wouldn’t it want a Green Party member on its panel?
This report fails to show any leadership or way forward and in a year’s time the effects of polar melting I fear will be felt by all of us.