St Albans Sustainability Festival launch petition urging council to declare climate emergency

PUBLISHED: 10:22 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:22 16 May 2019

Catherine Ross, trustee of Sustainable St Albans. Picture: Submitted by Sustainable St Albans

Catherine Ross, trustee of Sustainable St Albans. Picture: Submitted by Sustainable St Albans

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A petition urging St Albans to take drastic action against global warming has been created by eco-friendly groups as part of the Sustainability Festival 2019.

Festival charity organiser Sustainable St Albans, together with St Albans Friends of the Earth, are asking for public support in demanding St Albans district council (SADC) declare a climate emergency.

The groups say once this has happened, the district can work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

It says: "People expect an emergency announcement when there is a life-threatening situation, and will hesitate to take any action themselves if nobody else appears to be taking the threat seriously.

"Think of a fire alarm. People might initially think it is just a drill, and will ignore it if everyone else does. But as soon as someone who is considered to be a leader says the fire is indeed real and points out the safest exit to use, everyone will drop what they are doing and evacuate.

"So declaring a climate emergency is a vital first step. It will empower our community, encourage others to follow suit, and help all of us treat the climate crisis as the existential emergency that it is."

It lists other authorities which have taken this step, including Bedford Borough Council, Devon County Council, City of York Council, Oxford City Council, and Milton Keynes Council.

A recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said humanity has a little over a decade to reverse global warming before it cannot stop the floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty.

Trustee of Sustainable St Albans, Catherine Ross, said: "Responding to this climate emergency, which will affect us and our children for generations to come, is a non-party-political issue.

"It requires cooperation and collaboration across party lines. Dozens of councils around the country have already declared climate emergencies, as have MPs in the UK Parliament, and the Welsh assembly.

"We want our St Albans district council to play its part too."

More than 200 people have already signed the petition. If it reaches 500 supporters, it will be debated at an SADC full council meeting.

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St Albans resident Anna Hardist said: "I hope local sixth formers and students all sign.

"The petition calls for carbon neutrality by 2030; ambitious but not out of reach.

"Everyone who signs it is calling on the St Albans council to act and use their power to make decisions that will benefit us, and all those that follow."

The 20-year-old studies physics at the University of Warwick.

Anna added: "It is time to do what the generations before us failed to do - create a sustainable future for our world."

According to its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report, SADC has reduced its overall emissions by 19 per cent between 2008 and 2018.

By signing the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change in 2006, SADC committed to reducing emissions by three per cent every year and aim to achieve a 60 per cent reduction by 2025.

Portfolio holder for the environment at SADC, Frances Leonard, was contacted for comment.

To view and sign the petition, visit sustainablestalbans.org/petition/

This comes as part of the St Albans Sustainability Festival 2019, which runs from May 11 to June 1.

Events are taking place all over the district, including St Albans, Harpenden, and the surrounding villages.

Find out more about all the events making up the Sustainability Festival and download a schedule by visiting sustainablestalbans.org/get-started/sust-festival/

Many events are free, but some require booking. See the programme for more details.

The IPCC was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change and its implications, as well as suggesting adaptations which will help.

View the IPCC report at www.ipcc.ch

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