Petition is successful with 2,977 signatures
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,