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Devon County Council backs climate change emergency but stops short of committing to 2030 deadline

Thursday, 21 February 2019 0 Comments by Claire

Devon County Council voted through a motion this afternoon, which declared a state of climate emergency in Devon, but stopped short of backing a deadline of 2030 for the county to become carbon neutral.

Well over one hundred protesters demonstrated on the steps of county hall before the meeting. It was the biggest demonstration I had seen in my time as a county councillor (since 2013) and I have attended a LOT of demonstrations there!

The council was very worried about civil unrest after a similar Extinction Rebellion protest in Gloucestershire where protesters had glued their bottoms to their chairs and the police had to be called in.

There were security guards as well as police on standby…. but all that happened were that the peaceful polite protesters chanted and sang songs, waving their climate change banners.

Around 50 came into the council chamber and many spoke fantastically well. Some didn’t even use notes yet their speeches were among the best I have ever heard in my time as a councillor.

A 13 year old girl bravely took the mic at one point and other older teenagers also spoke.

It was hugely inspiring to feel part of a movement that is led by the younger generation. I absolutely loved that this issue, which is about the future of young people growing up in a world that actually sustains life.

Green councillor and member of our non-aligned group, Jacqi Hodgson proposed the motion and good on her!

The cabinet recommendation supported the essence of the motion but stopped short of committing to the 2030 deadline, largely because the leader, Cllr John Hart said he had been told it was not remotely achievable.

We did try and argue that we should aim for 2030 and that was the essence of the amendment that we supported. Certainly, all the protesters were urging us to back the 2030 deadline, which has been set out by the IPCC as a date after which it will be difficult to avoid runaway climate breakdown.

My indie colleague, Frank Biederman, proposed a recorded vote (so that it would be known how all councillors voted) but the Tories voted this down.

The final outcome was that the council supported declaring Devon as a place of climate emergency but stopped short of backing the deadline, which was voted down by the conservatives.

The libdems, labour and non-aligned group all backed the deadline, as well as the substantive motion.

As the vote took place, there was a lot of heckling from the public gallery and one girl could be seen crying as she walked out. 

I have to say I salute them for sitting through three hours of budget to hear the debate!  Amazing tenacity.

Disappointing, but quite honestly, based on past experience, better than I had expected!

This is the webcast which itemised ... https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/388749

And if you’re on Facebook, here is my live video!  -https://www.facebook.com/claire.l.wright.7/videos/10156103906081659/?comment_id=10156104786991659&notif_id=1550782787036799&notif_t=comment_mention

Pic:  In full council this afternoon, with the public gallery full of climate protesters and security standing by!

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