St Helens Borough Council Cabinet yesterday agreed a detailed action plan to ensure the council does much more to help tackle climate change.
The agreed actions include significant reductions in the use of paper and plastics across the council; the creation of a Climate Action Working Group to lead on developing and implementing initiatives; the appointment of an accountable officer for overseeing and leading on climate change issues; and training for all councillors on the climate emergency.
Cllr Andy Bowden, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport who welcomed the report, says: “I want to thank Cllr Uddin and members of the task group for their work on this report and the recommendations they have put forward. The recommendations and the action plan sit well with Cllr Uddin’s motion to council last year on the climate emergency (see https://www.sthelenslabour.org/latest-news/2019/07/11/climateemergency/) and with Cllr Hattersley’s excellent motion to council last week (see https://www.sthelenslabour.org/latest-news/2020/11/06/sdg/) in support of the UN sustainable development goals, both of which were supported unanimously by Labour councillors.
Progress has not been as fast as we would like since Cllr Uddin’s motion last year, due to officers and councillors being focused on addressing the pandemic and its consequences for our communities. But I’m pleased to say that progress is now being made, and for me, key within the recommendations is the establishment of a councillor led climate action group, supported by a senior officer, with a remit wider than that suggested by the task group.
This should be seen alongside our focus on the environment, for example, within the local plan, our work at city region level with metro mayor Steve Rotherham on green and sustainable transport, and the actions agreed at last week’s council through Cllr Hattersley’s motion.
I believe this demonstrates a real commitment to the climate emergency we face.
I’ve no doubt there will be a false cry from the usual quarters of hypocrisy, as we work to encourage and attract multimillion pound investments in our borough, bringing jobs and opportunities to our residents. But it isn’t a zero sum game and supporting action on climate change and sustainable development goals is not incompatible with the creation of jobs and the building of houses for those that need them. Indeed it is my view it compliments and helps to meet them, as well as being at the core of my principles as a Labour politician.
Sustainable development and addressing the climate emergency is not about saying ‘no’ to a development just because it’s near your home or your default position. That’s not being Green, it’s very often just political opportunism, job snobbery and NIMBYism, whilst at the same time denying others opportunities for housing and jobs, contradicting the aims of the UN sustainable development goals.
This is a good and timely piece of work, and its recommendations – particularly the establishment of the working group – will make a difference and continue to show how we as a council through our words and actions are taking the climate emergency seriously.”
Cllr Mancyia Uddin, who is the Labour Group Spokesperson on Climate Change and who brought the issue to cabinet, says: “Collectively achieving economic, social and climate justice should be at the heart of everything we do.
The Council plays an essential role in protecting the health and well-being of our people and our planet, and whilst the Council alone cannot solve the global climate crisis, we can and should use the influence we have as to encourage our staff, partners and communities to be more conscious of the environment and be mindful in the choices they make.
I was very pleased to hear cabinet’s response to the report and for recognising the establishment of a Climate Change Commission which was one of the key recommendations. This is a huge accomplishment for myself and the task group and I look forward to it coming to fruition in the coming months.”
Read the action plan here: moderngov.sthelens.gov.uk/documents/s108440/Appendix%201.pdf and the background papers here: http://moderngov.sthelens.gov.uk/documents/s108439/2020%2011%20Cabinet%20Response%20to%20Scrutiny%20Review%20of%20Paper%20and%20Plastics%2011.11.20.pdf.