28 April 2021
Labour has rejected amendments put forward by the Progressive Group which sought to strengthen a motion on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. The Group has also highlighted Labour's disarray over what has been previously agreed.
The motion, brought by the Labour-led City Council to last night’s Full Council meeting, backs the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill . This Private Members Bill, which was drafted by scientists, legal experts, ecological economists and environmentalists, and tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas, is now supported by 120 MPs, including all Liberal Democrat MPs and Exeter’s Ben Bradshaw MP.
However, the Progressive Group say the motion failed to include important actions to demonstrate Labour’s stated commitment to the Climate and Ecological Emergency. The Progressive Group amendments  included setting a carbon budget and audit for both the city and the Council; using the work of the Devon Local Nature Recovery Strategy, which aims to repair and increase wildlife habitats, to inform the development of the new local plan; and to set up a Citizens Assembly as one way to engage local communities in delivering solutions to the climate and ecological crises.
Green Councillor, Diana Moore, who proposed the amendments, said:
“We welcome the commitment of the Labour-led Council and of Ben Bradshaw MP to the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill in parliament. However, this was an opportunity not only to be seen backing the Bill, but also to really demonstrate that local actions will match the aims of this important Bill.
“The amendments brought by the Progressive Group sought to include clear actions, including setting a carbon budget and audit for the city and using a Citizens Assembly process as a way to engage people on how Exeter can reach its 2030 Net Zero target. Instead, Labour served up propaganda on its limited achievements to date.”
Liberal Democrat councillor, Kevin Mitchell, challenged Labour disarray over the motion, which originally referred to a Climate Emergency motion in February 2019.
Cllr Mitchell said:
“Labour appear to be in disarray over what they have previously agreed and what they rejected. They originally referred to a Climate Emergency motion from February 2019, which the Labour leader actually blocked by instructing his councillors not to back it.
“Belatedly, Labour obviously realised that they needed to refer to their own version of the Climate Emergency motion which was passed in July of the same year. Furthermore, this included a Progressive Group amendment to recognise the biodiversity crisis. So why has Labour made great fanfare about adding this to last night’s motion when it was agreed almost two years ago?
“With such confusion, people in Exeter will be left wondering how serious Labour really are about the greatest emergency facing our planet and the future of communities across the globe.”
 Climate and Ecological Emergency Motion See item 13 of the agenda as put forward by the Labour group.
 Amendments to the motion put forward by the Progressive Group
The amend point 2 of the resolution to:
2. To continue to work with partners, both locally and regionally, including DCC, to
A. achieve net zero carbon objectives, and publish a carbon budget and annual audit for both the City and the Council to demonstrate progress towards the net zero 2030 target;
B. to conserve and support the recovery of the natural environment, in particular by supporting the work of the Devon Local Nature Recovery Strategy and use this strategy to inform the development of the new local plan."
To delete resolution 3 and replace with:
3. To set up an Exeter citizens assembly to deliberate on solutions, and engage communities to deliver initiatives to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies."
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