Bob Whitehead, one of XR’s members with access to the BCC Task Group, has commented on XR’s Basecamp site about Birmingham City Council’s poor response to its own declaration of a climate emergency:
The latest Birmingham Council Climate Emergency Taskforce (R20) took place on the 6th of August. It seems that a ‘Plan’ is going to be put to the full council on Tuesday 15th September.
We in Climate Action West Midlands (CANWM) thought that it would contain hard details of what the council was actually going to do to meet its commitments, based upon the Anthesis report of hired consultants.
This was already bad news because the Anthesis report only envisaged an 84% reduction in the city’s carbon emissions by 2030 at best, and more like 72%; carbon neutrality would not be achieved until 2050, the same as the national government.
Now, remember that XR was one of the key driving forces for the council to go carbon zero, and we called for 2025 to be the cut-off date. The compromise reached with Councillors last year on June 11th was 2030, or as soon as possible afterwards; but now we have 2050! If this slippage is not bad enough, it seems that the ‘Plan’ to be put to council on 15th September is merely a wish-list, and not concrete plans for doing anything. We hope we are wrong, but that is our current impression.
So, after 15 months of reports, papers and meetings, the urgency of taking any action is just melting away, a bit like the ice-caps. More has been achieved in reducing carbon emissions and other pollution by Covid in three months than the council has in over a year. Apparently, similar patterns are in evidence in other local authorities.
What to do about this bad situation? One idea is to produce a ‘minority report’ to be put to council on September 15th. This is being drawn up by CANWM, in alliance with Friends of the Earth, Footsteps (Faiths for a low carbon future) and Youth Strike for the Climate. It could contain radical demands such as:
- scrap HS2,
- curb aviation at the airport,
- Fare Free Public Transport,
- immediate mass insulation of buildings,
- climate education in all schools
- and the ending of waste food incineration at the Tyseley depot.
We would need some rebel councillors to propose this in the council chamber.
It may be that the meeting on the 15th is online only, so that poses another problem in terms of the public gallery, a mass lobby outside the council etc.
So, we need some head-scratching as to how we turn all this around. The council have said they will not set up a citizens’ assembly, so how do we bring pressure to bear?