Gosport council refuses to declare 'climate emergency' over 'achievable' targets

COUNCILLORS have refused to declare a climate emergency after a fiery debate over ‘unrealistic’ environmnetal targets.

Thursday, 25th July 2019, 6:16 pm
Updated Monday, 29th July 2019, 3:45 pm

Cllr Murray Johnston, a Liberal Democrat, put forward a motion at Gosport Borough Council wanting the authority to join around 200 councils in the country who have declared an emergency.

But the motion was heavily criticised by Conservative councillors, both for being a copy and pasted template found online, and for having ‘unrealistic' targets.

Both Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council have already declared climate emergencies.

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Gosport has not declared a climate emergency

Tory councillors altered Cllr Johnston's motion by an amendment removing the declaration of a climate emergency, as well as targets to make the council net-zero carbon by 2030.

The authority will also appoint a climate change awareness champion, and set up a cross-party working group.

Cllr Graham Burgess, deputy council leader, slammed the initial motion, calling it a ‘disaster’, after it called for work to be done by the scrutiny panel and portfolio holder – neither of which Gosport council has.

Tory Philip Raffaelli said: ‘I do welcome this motion. Climate change is clearly an issue we should be concerned about.

‘My concern with this proposal is that the suggested target for zero carbon emissions is 2030 – some 20 years in advance of the national targets.

‘I cannot support this motion without an achievable target.’

Newly-elected Lib Dem councillor Siobhan Mitchell, who seconded Cllr Johnston’s motion, said: ‘I first heard about climate change 34 years ago, but I’m not prepared to wait another 34 years for action – 134 councils have accepted 2030 as a target – I don't see why we should be slower.’

Having tabled the initial motion, the Liberal Democrats voted against the Conservative amendment, with party leader Cllr Peter Chegwyn saying it ‘destroyed' his fellow party member’s work.

He said: ‘This isn't an amendment, it's a completely new motion.’

The new version of the motion, which was voted through by Conservative and Labour Party councillors on Wednesday, July 24, also commits to developing an action plan.