Blogpost: The Climate Emergency - It’s time to act

July 23, 2019 2:04 PM
By George Potter

Delcaring a climate emergency graphic

Climate breakdown is an imminent threat. It's time to treat it like one.

Global temperature has already risen by 1 degree from pre-industrial levels. If that increase reaches 2 degrees then we will have reached a deadly tipping point. At 2 degrees 99% of coral reefs will die, thousands of species will face extinction and we will see huge areas of land made uninhabitable by flooding or drought, creating tens of millions of climate refugees.

Most worrying of all, at 2 degrees we reach the threshold at which runaway climate change starts to happen. We could see the near total melting of the Artic permafrost (which is already melting at rates not previously expected until 2090) releasing vast quantities of frozen methane and accelerating climate change to the point where human survival itself could be threatened.

We need action now. Our future depends on it.

And the science tells us that the if we can become carbon neutral by 2030 then we have a 66% chance of keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

That's why, alongside my colleague Cllr Steven Lee, today I will be proposing a motion for Guildford Borough Council to formally declare a climate emergency and to commit to becoming a carbon-neutral borough by 2030.

I believe Guildford must lead by example. For the sake of ourselves and future generations we must adopt a challenging but necessary target of a carbon neutral borough by 2030.

The motion we're putting forward recognises that this will require local government, businesses and our communities to all work together.

This is why we want the council to set up a Climate Change Partnership to get the public and all the key players together and working with expert advice in order to draw up a plan to achieve the goal of a carbon neutral borough.

After all, decarbonising our borough will affect all of us and everyone deserves to have a say in how it's done.

Reaching net zero carbon emissions will not be painless but, as we've already seen over the past few years, decarbonisation offers immense opportunities for creating new jobs and improving the cost of living and quality of life for everyone.

Improving energy efficiency lowers household bills as well as emissions, growing the green economy creates jobs at every skill level, and more sustainable forms of transport can help connect our borough and help it to thrive at same time as safeguarding our environment for generations yet to come.

Going green can and must be done in such a way as to strengthen our society and businesses. I hope that Guildfordians can lead the way in showing the rest of the country how it should be done.

As my colleague, and co-sponsor of the motion, Cllr Steven Lee has said:

"Tackling environmental issues is not just about climate and nature but about people too. Our children deserve to grow up in a healthy, happy, beautiful world. It's our job to make that happen for the next generation."

This blogpost was written by George Potter, Lib Dem councillor for Burpham ward.