Wokingham Borough Council took its first step towards becoming carbon neutral as it declared a climate emergency at yesterday evening’s [18 July] full council meeting. There was unanimous support for the motion, which was submitted by leader Cllr John Halsall, with the aim to reach the target by 2030.
Cllr Halsall called for recognition of the urgent action required to protect the planet at a local, national and international level. It follows more than 100 local authorities across the UK, as well as the UK Government, making a similar declaration.
The council’s executive has a cabinet member for Climate Emergency, Cllr Gregor Murray, to focus on the issue.
“We have now made a firm pledge to make the council carbon neutral by 2030 and we will be developing a climate change emergency action plan to do this,” he said. “We will be looking for residents, businesses, charities and schools to work alongside us to help reduce our emissions, address climate change and guarantee the future of our planet.
“The council already has successful initiatives on food waste and reduced energy usage on its property estate, as well as many sustainable transport and development policies. This is just the start of this crucial process where we will look to lead the residents of our borough to make positive change and take our environmental responsibilities seriously for the sake of our planet.”
In his motion, Cllr Halsall said: “Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) believes the world is now in a climate emergency. More concerted and urgent action is needed at local, national and international level to protect our planet for future generations.
"As such, this Council commits to playing as full a role as possible – leading by example as well as by exhortation – in achieving a carbon neutral Wokingham Borough by 2030.”
After an amendment by Cllr Carl Doran, it was agreed Cllr Murray would set up a cross-party working group to investigate and propose further recommendations to help achieve a carbon neutral borough.
The working group will invite and consult with the community on how to fight against the climate crisis. It will report back within six months.