Council Fails to Provide Funds for Environment & Climate Change Strategy

Conservatives vote down proposals to fund RBWM’s Environment & Climate Change Strategy.


I am very disappointed to report that, at a lengthy Council meeting last night, Conservatives Councillors voted on mass to reject my proposal to fund RBWM’s Environment & Climate Change Strategy, which is due for delivery in June 2020.

 

Cllr W Da Costa Proposes Funding to Develop an Achievable and Ambitious Strategy

Following our Environmental &  Climate Change resolutions on 25 June 2019, I developed a proposal to fund deep training for the key officers across every department of the Council, officers who will be responsible for creating the ideas, metrics, processes, assessments, measurements, and policy implementation in their area of expertise e.g. Highways, Planning, Property, Education, Adult Services, Social Services etc…

The training would cover Zero Carbon strategies and methods, Biodiversity Strengthening, and Climate Change Resilience.

Training is needed NOW, to give officers enough time to do the work and produce the strategies before June 2020.

Click here to read my original Budget Amendment proposal in full.

Click here to read my original post in full.

I even volunteered to change the proposal to ensure that if and when Cllr Stimson’s fundraising efforts come to fruition, that the £15,000 would be repaid to the reserves!

 

No money in the kitty!

All Independents and LibDems voted for my modest, but pivotal funding proposal however, Cllr Stimson abstained and, ALL the remaining Conservatives voted against providing any funding to achieve our need to become Carbon Neutral and our broader desire to strengthen Biodiversity and develop Resilience to Climate Change.

We now have no money in the kitty for the coming year to pay for anything and, no lead officer yet in place to guide the project management.

You do wonder why we bother when the Tories just seem to ignore us.

Here’s my speech to Council, which referenced twee soundbites, and vacuous words, from Cabinet Members talking about fairness, investing in staff, and future proofing our budget for our young people; there will be no future for our young people if we don’t tackle climate change, and quickly.

Here’s what I said, which was completely ignored by the Conservatives.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 

Cllr Da Costa’s Speech to Council to Create Funds for Climate Change

On 25 June 2019 this Council declared an “environmental and climate emergency” and committed to achieving, “net zero carbon emissions by 2050” and delivering a “strategy to be brought before Full Council within 12 months.”

Since then, we have seen increased erosion to coastlines in Norfolk & Devon, wildfires and droughts in Yorkshire and Southern farmland, extreme weather record temperatures and regular flooding in York, Leeds, Wales, North Somerset and even along the Thames, ¼ of UK mammals now facing the risk of extinction.

The lungs of our planet are burning in the Amazon, record temperatures killed thousands in Europe, Australia and around the world, wildfires in Australia, loss of glaciers, melting of sea ice at record levels, changes in sea currents, biodiversity threatened with levels of extinction not seen since the loss of the dinosaurs.

Worse than that, GHGs and temperature rises are causing acidification of the oceans and permafrost thawing in arctic regions, releasing large amounts of previously locked in GHGs into the atmosphere to compound the situation.

At our present rate of GHG emission, scientists think than we only have around 5 years left to massively reduce GHG emissions to net zero, or face extremely dangerous levels of climate change that will threaten our species.

As UN Secretary General António Gutieres warned last Summer, we are close to the point of no return. We need to find solutions, not excuses.

Urgent and intense effort is required by this Council. By us.

I have spent the last 6 months attending training course, talking and working with  professors, scientists, climate change specialists, DEFRA, legislatures in Wales and Scotland, European councils, Natural England, and spending much time at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.

This is a new science for humanity. All of us.

But it’s not easy. It is complex. with many feed back mechanisms and interrelated aspects that effect;

  • Generating renewable electricity
  • Energy use for buildings
  • Transportation networks and electric vehicles
  • Land use, moving away from development on green belt and green fields
  • Planning regimes to ensure that ALL developments and buildings are carbon neutral
  • Farming, food sources and our diets

The good news is that the solutions, methodologies, and training exists. Today. Solutions which can safeguard the future for our children, and bring increasing health, wealth and vitality for us all.

Training to make us experts on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Climate Change Resilience and, to apply it to our fields or work.

But who needs this deep level of training?

Well, who will prepare a Environmental and Climate Change strategy for us to build in resilience to the extremes that are coming upon us?

Who are our experts in property, outsourcing, planning, waste, transportation, finance to name but a few areas?

It is our officers.

We have committed to producing a strategy by June 2020.

This is the last chance to put funding in place for this Budget year, to equip them to understand and apply Zero Carbon Methodologies and Environmental sciences to their areas of responsibility.

This proposal is for £15,000 one off seed funding. Now.

Cllr Stimson is working like billy-o to raise funds for the future, but as yet those funds have not materialised, hence this proposal.

PS If there any billionaires out there, Cllrs Stimson, Davies and myself would ask you to get in touch. Your Borough needs you.

£15,000 is a relatively small amount but, will enable us to train the key initial wave of officers, up to 100, and will enable them to review every area under their jurisdiction and create the ideas for the strategy, together with the metrics, assessments, costings, legal processes, and timelines specific to our Borough.

It will give us a lot of bang for our buck.

Let’s invest in our staff.

But madam Chairman, I’m sure the omission from budget was innocuous.

I blame the spread sheets. Complex, iterated spread sheets for the omission. It’s so easily done.

Let’s correct those spread sheets and vote for the amendment.

As Mr Gutieres would say, let’s not make excuses, let’s put our money where mouth is.

Let’s try and turn back the point of no return, and face the future together with boldness and bravery. Let’s equip and release our officers for the benefit of us all.

Own the future. Own this budget amendment. Let’s future proof this budget for our young people. Please vote for it.

 

The world is on fire whilst the politicians continue to fiddle around!

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

So, where do we go to from here?

Accountably yours,

 

Cllr Wisdom Da Costa

Clewer & Dedworth West

 

Caveat

  • This post is part of the WWRA Councillors regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as promised in their election leaflet
  • It is also to comply with clause v of the Members Code of Conduct which states, “You must be as open as possible about your decisions and actions and the decisions and actions of your authority and should be prepared to give reasons for those decisions and actions.”
  • The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).
  • Any errors are unintentional so, I would value you bringing them to my intention so I can correct them. You can Email me cllr.dacosta@rbwm.gov.uk