The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Greens respond to Labour ripping up their motion on climate emergency

1 March 2019

Exeter Green Party have responded to the ripping up of their Climate Emergency motion by Labour councillors and replacing it with their own climate motion.

Councillor Chris Musgrave, who proposed the Green motion, said that while there were good points in the Labour motion, he regretted the removal of any mention of a climate emergency and was highly critical of the way Labour councillors treat opposition members and their ideas. He said: 

“This motion is a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. We of course welcome Exeter’s pioneering work on Passivhaus council houses, and its commitment to be an energy-neutral council by 2022, for example. But the issues on which the City Council have taken action are patchy and on a very small scale - wholly inadequate in the face of the pressing need to take action fast. And crucially, Labour have removed any mention of a climate emergency, which was the whole thrust of the Green motion. 

“Many cities have declared a climate emergency in the wake of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year. The report urged local authorities and national governments to take bold actions within the next 12 years to limit global temperature rises to a 1.5oC. Bradford, Bristol and Oxford, to name just three cities, have all declared a climate emergency, but Exeter, home to the Met Office and world-renowned climate scientists has failed to. 

“Declaring a climate emergency provides a basis for the actions that will be needed to become a carbon neutral city by 2030. Such a declaration would also add to the pressure on national government to provide local authorities with the funding and resources needed to push us towards carbon neutrality. 

“Then there is the downright ugly. The motion put forward by Exeter Labour reads like a Party-political broadcast. It is Labour at it most complacent, refusing to listen to or adopt the ideas of anyone else. But what is abundantly clear is that tribal politics has no place when tackling a global issue like climate change. Climate breakdown threatens the lives of our children and grandchildren. We have to work cooperatively together to find solutions and build a truly climate-friendly economy and society for the future.”

Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who is in Exeter this Friday to speak on what a zero-carbon city would look like, responded to the Labour motion: 

“This long-planned talk seems particularly timely, given the less-than-satisfactory motion passed this week which failed to acknowledge the climate emergency we face. 

“It is good that Exeter City Council has accepted that a target of carbon-neutrality by 2030 is desirable, but the self-congratulatory tone of the Labour amendment, which essential replaced the motion put forward by Green Councillor Chris Musgrave, with a list of claims about the success of its pre-existing action, is disappointing.  

Ms Bennett’s focus during her talk will be on how our climate emergency can be tackled, by warm, affordable-to-heat homes, reliable, convenient public transport, encouragement of walking and cycling, and healthier, plant-based diets. She will emphasise how tackling climate change can improve people’s lives. She said:

“The climate emergency called by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year requires the transformation of our economy, society, education, politics and treatment of the environment, not business as usual. 

I’ll be reporting back from the climate talks in Katowice in December on how civil society is stepping up to demand action, from the teenager Greta Thunberg to the nonagenarian David Attenborough. We’re seeing that in Exeter too, from Extinction Rebellion and Transition Towns to the school climate strike. 

She concluded: 

“The community is demanding action, not backslapping from its council.” 

Note:

The talk by Natalie Bennett is on Friday 1st March at 6pm in the Henderson Lecture Theatre, Xfi Building, University of Exeter, EX4 4ST. All welcome. The event is hosted by the University of Exeter Global Systems Institute and Transition Exeter and chaired by Professor Patrick Devine-Wright. 

Natalie was Green Party leader from 2012-2016 and she continues to work fulltime on Green Party issues, including the battles against fracking and for universal basic income.