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To: Newcastle City Council

Declare a Climate Emergency

10/04/19 We did it!

Newcastle Council has declared a Climate Emergency, promising to make our city carbon neutral by 2030!! Thanks to your support for this campaign, climate change is back on our Council's agenda. But of course, the devil’s in the detail… Here’s the full story:

We presented the almost 3,000-signature petition to Newcastle City Council’s meeting on Wednesday Evening. I asked Taymar Pitman from Newcastle Green Party to speak in support of the petition inside the Council’s chamber, since she’s been instrumental in helping me to understand Council procedures and has regularly joined me out on the street in freezing weather to gather signatures - along with many other Greens and supporters of the climate pressure group Extinction Rebellion, among fabulous others. Taymar explained to the council why each of the petition’s four points was critical to tackling the climate emergency. A crowd rallied outside the Civic Centre to push our Council to take climate action. We were also joined by supporters of Save Newcastle Wildlife’s campaign opposing a new open cast coal mine at Dewley Hill near Throckley, on the edge of Newcastle.

Despite the Council delaying the debate about the climate emergency into ‘extra time’, we got a pledge from them to make Newcastle carbon neutral by 2030! However, the Council ignored the petition’s call to set specific targets for sectors such as housing and transport, and refused to commit to the annual progress reporting we’d asked for. Their ‘carbon neutral’ pledge (not ‘climate neutral’ as we’d asked) also ignores other climate-warming emissions such as methane and nitrous oxides. I’m glad the Council expressed a desire to divest their pension fund from fossil fuels, although again with no firm commitment. I very much hope that myself and other supporters of this petition will be invited to take part in the Council’s proposed new ‘Climate Change Convention’, bringing together businesses, residents, academics and the public sector to create a city-wide plan for action!

The lack of commitment to a timeline worries me though, given that the Council have previously failed to meet the ambitions set out in their past climate change plans. Nonetheless, Newcastle Council’s recognition of the climate emergency opens up a window of opportunity to keep pressing them to take rapid, ambitious action to tackle the looming threat of climate breakdown…

To continue to build momentum, I’ll be again joining the #YouthStrike4Climate’s #FridaysForFuture rally this Friday outside Newcastle Civic Centre (12 April 11am-2pm), as well as working alongside Newcastle Green Party, and Extinction Rebellion [I’ll be talking about their campaign at Jesmond Library on 25 April 6pm during their North East action week], to keep the pressure on our Council to urgently agree it’s plan for climate action! Newcastle Green Party also ask me to invite supporters of this petition to contribute their ideas for continuing the push for urgent action at their meeting tomorrow (Thurs 11 April 7pm at Commercial Union House, 39 Pilgrim Street NE1 6QE) or for a celebratory drink afterwards at the Tyneside Cinema Bar opposite (8.30pm).

Friends, I thank all of you for signing, sharing and supporting this successful call on Newcastle Council to declare a Climate Emergency – together we have put climate change firmly back on our leaders’ agenda in Newcastle.

I hope you will join me in continuing to push for urgent climate action, and thank you again for your support,


Petition link:

Declare a Climate Emergency

We call on Newcastle City Council to declare a climate emergency, and:
1. Publicly report on progress regarding the 2010 ‘Declaration on Climate Change’, ‘Climate Action Plan’ and 2014 ‘Mayors Adapt’ commitments, within 6 months.
2. Update the Climate Action Plan within 6 months, to make Newcastle climate neutral before 2030.
3. Set specific targets to reduce carbon in housing, transport, domestic waste and council buildings and report on progress annually. Include carbon reduction implications in all policy decision-making.
4. To end Council investment in fossil fuels within 3 years, and call for staff pension fund divestment.

Why is this important?

There is a Climate Emergency and Newcastle City Council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan is dangerously outdated, having been last published in 2010. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report this autumn warned that humanity has just 11 years left to take emergency action in order to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown due to global warming greater than 1.5°C. Above this, the risks to humanity from floods, droughts, extreme heat and growing poverty become much greater, with far worse impacts in the UK and on hundreds of millions more people across the globe. At present, the world is on course for 3°C of warming – this will be catastrophic for humanity, risking the collapse of civilisation.

The Climate Change Act committed the UK to 80% cuts in greenhouse gases by 2050, but to meet this target and the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement requires far stronger action from local as well as national government.

Newcastle Council have not updated nor publicly reported on progress with their 2010 Climate Change Action Plan nor Declaration on Climate Change. In 2014, Newcastle Council became a signatory of Mayors Adapt, the European Commission’s initiative on preparing for climate change, under which they are obligated to report on progress every two years but have not done so. Since then, the urgency of the situation has redoubled. Our council must do more to protect the population of Newcastle from catastrophic climate breakdown and to report on progress to this end.

As a leader in the North and one of the UK’s Core Cities, Newcastle City Council must follow the examples of Bristol, London, Manchester and other local authorities and lead the way to a fossil-free Northern Powerhouse and UK.

How it will be delivered

With more than 2,500 signatures from people who live, work, study, own businesses or use services in the city, this petition will trigger a debate in Newcastle City Council Chamber. The petition will be delivered at a full Council meeting by a Newcastle Green Party campaigner; with the requisite supporting signatures it can be presented along with a 5 minute presentation. With fewer signatures, the petition will be read out in Council Chamber.

Newcastle upon Tyne

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • A stable climate is our life support system. Our lives depend on it so its essential we take the actions needed. However difficult this might seem, it will be easier than dealing with runaway climate breakdown
  • Science needs to dictate this and policy needs to get in line fast. We must radically create a new paradigm and build it on fundamental truth with compassion and equality at its heart. Stamp out speciesism. We have such potential and have been living from addictions instead.
  • As a scientist I think that climate change is the #1 political/socioeconomic problem facing us.


2019-04-10 16:49:16 +0100

Petition is successful with 2,977 signatures

2019-04-07 15:31:59 +0100

We did it! Newcastle City Council have declared a Climate Emergency and pledged to make our city carbon neutral by 2030!!!

Thanks to everyone who signed, shared, petitioned and rallied - together we put climate change back on Newcastle Council's agenda. But of course, the devil is in that detail...Recognising the problem is step 1, but we'll have to keep up the pressure to ensure the Council act swiftly to truly tackle the threat of climate breakdown.

2019-03-30 11:23:41 +0000

Sunderland has declared a Climate Emergency! Let's hope Newcastle Council will listen and up their game against climate change.

2019-02-28 23:48:25 +0000

MPs debated climate change today in parliament, prompted by the first #YouthStrike4Climate in the UK this month - But it seems most of them chose to 'bunk off' this vital debate!

With the Westminster government failing to tackle the climate emergency, and our local Council having failed to report on progress with their 2010 climate pledges, the importance of our petition is all the more clear: we need to push our local elected representatives to take the threat of climate breakdown seriously, and send a loud and clear message to Parliament. Our children and grandchildren deserve a liveable future.

2019-02-21 00:29:38 +0000

On Friday, I took the day off work to go to the #YouthStrike4Climate rally in Newcastle, as I wanted to show my support to the school and university students taking part. It was so inspiring to meet all these engaged young people, helping refuel my passion to get Newcastle Council to get serious about climate change and take action urgently - so that they and thousands like them in our city will have the chance of a decent future.

2019-02-20 22:39:39 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2019-01-23 21:26:20 +0000

500 signatures reached

2019-01-14 08:10:20 +0000

100 signatures reached

2019-01-13 22:14:45 +0000

50 signatures reached

2019-01-13 20:26:17 +0000

25 signatures reached

2019-01-13 19:57:07 +0000

10 signatures reached