Charfield Parish Council declares a Climate and Ecological Emergency

Resolved at the full meeting of Charfield Parish Council May 14th 2019

Charfield Parish Council associates itself with all the other local authority and other organisations in declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency. In doing so, the Council explains why we are doing this and what our intentions are to address this emergency.

Why are we doing this?

In October 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change announced that there are only 12 years to make urgent and unprecedented changes. The way things stand now, we have only 1% chance of doing this, and only a 5% chance global average temperatures can be limited to less than 2° Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels. The warnings of climate and ecological breakdown are all around:

Climate breakdown

There has been a gradual destabilisation of the climate due to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, and in the last few decades this has accelerated. Droughts are getting longer and more severe, causing more scarcity of food and water. Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and destructive. Heatwaves are already magnifying the fire risk around the world and causing heat stress deaths. Widespread floods are escalating. Rising sea levels are threatening coastal and riverside settlements. Global temperatures have increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm), which far exceeds the pre-industrial base level of 280ppm.

In the past year, there are more signs that tipping points are being reached. In December it was reported that the rate of Greenland’s ice melt has quadrupled. Soon after, NASA discovered a huge cavern has opened up under Antarctica, and that a polar vortex destabilised sending freezing Arctic weather over the American mid-west whilst January was the warmest month in Australia, ever. In March, the UN reported that sharp temperature rises in the Arctic are inevitable, even if the Paris goals are met.

Ecological breakdown

Although it is difficult to estimate or to project future rates of loss as the Emergency worsens, already three species are lost to eternity each hour. In February, there were reports of a catastrophic decline in insect populations which will soon affect our food supplies. The Food and Agriculture Organisation has reported that 63% of plants, 11% of birds, and 5% of fish and fungi are in decline. There is a debilitating loss of soil biodiversity, forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species. Dead zones are growing in the oceans due to acidification and warming.

The main causes of ecological breakdown are: intensive agriculture with its use of chemicals; deforestation for logging, biofuels and livestock rearing; growing urbanisation and transport infrastructure; over-exploitation of water; over-harvesting and wildlife poaching; invasive species and diseases; pollution; and the burning of fossil fuels and climate change. 

We recognise that the children of our parish are likely to grow up in a world where these matters have taken on a direct and challenging impact. If we want people who are under the age of 20 to live a full life we must act now to reduce our carbon emissions to a net zero by 2025.[1]

What are we going to do about it?

  1. We will tell the truth about the emergency and support our community in making the changes that are needed.
  2. We will give full consideration of impacts on the climate and ecology in all our discussions and decisions. 
  3. We will work to make changes where practicable that reduce the council’s carbon emissions with an aim of net zero by 2025.
  4. We will challenge policies and actions which will or are likely to increase the carbon emissions of our community.
  5. We will promote actions and activities that regenerate our ecology and enable a low carbon Charfield.
  6. We will add this declaration to our duty of consideration[2] where it will form an intrinsic part of our working process.

[1] Net zero means that on balance one’s activities are zero emissions, taking into account all possible Greenhouse Gas emissions and actions taken to mitigate or offset those emissions.

[2] Members are reminded that the Council has a duty to consider the following matters in the exercise of any of its functions: Equal Opportunities (race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, marital status and any disability), Crime & Disorder, Health & Safety and Human rights. Likewise the Council will consider the impact of its actions on climate and ecology and work towards the aims of its Declaration of Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Ends