Action for climate change at a Local Level

This dystopian view of smoking chimneys is not one that we face in our city. Instead our air is full of tiny invisible particulates which are damaging our health. Action to deal with climate change cannot be taken only by governments. We must all change our behaviour to save our planet.

As most people now know Liverpool Council will have a meeting on 17th July devoted, apart from some statutory business, to climate change. This is a hugely important topic and is probably the most important topic facing the World as a whole. But these are not just issues for the future but for the here and now. Liverpool residents are suffering from poor air quality; live in houses that are not well insulated and are suffering a continual stream of abnormal weather patterns which affect our health.

Liverpool Lib Dems have submitted a policy motion to our Autumn Conference in partnership with the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors. It is being done to coincide with a major paper on climate change which will be presented. We’ve contributed to this because we were in any case considering our position for the Council and what we want to say then. We’ve spoken to many of our Members and have begun a discussion with outside groups who specialise in environmental issues and activities

We are especially lucky that here in Liverpool we have three Universities and they could be major partners with us in framing the debate and helping create a green economy which is forward thinking and employment creating.

 We believe that there are two important things that the Council must do:

  1. It must involve the people of Liverpool; its businesses and visitors in a discussion about the issues and what we can do about them. We need to have a major culture change in the way that we behave.
  2. It must not be a set of environmental and climate change policies that can be debated and parked. We will argue for the environment to be considered as part of every strategy and policy promoted by the Council

You see below the motion that we have submitted to the Party. It is wide ranging and because it is for national consideration has some things in which are not relevant to us and omits some things that are. However, we believe it provides a good start in shaping the sort of debate that we need to have within the Council in July.

Motion submitted to the Lib Dem Autumn Conference

Conference welcomes:

–          the increased awareness of the problems of climate change within the people of the UK.

–          the enhanced role of Liberal Democrats in local government with 47 councils which we control or lead and many more in which we exercise considerable influence.

Conference believes:

–          that we have a limited time to change the energy patterns of our World to mitigate those changes and that the UK must play a leading role in such activity.

–          that the Government has a major role to play and welcomes the work done by Lib Dems in the 2010/15 Government to bring this matter to the fore particularly in the field of renewable and sustainable energy when has led to coal free days for up to a fortnight in the last year in connection with national energy generation into the National Grid.

–          like so many policies the most effective policies will be those that are devised and delivered at a local level in partnership with local people and businesses. In such a belief the role of strong leadership in local government will be decisive in creating local, targets, actions and partnership.

Conference calls on:

Liberal Democrats in local government both in control, leadership or opposition to press for actions by their councils within their area to declare a “state of climate change emergency” within their council and ensure that their council has a strong and effective strategy to fight climate change in all its actions and policies and that such a strategy should include:

1.      Community Involvement Measures

The development of a multi-faceted awareness campaign to involve residents, business, young people and visitors to promote a discussion and awareness of climate change issues to assist changes in both culture and practice.

2.      Energy saving measures

           i.        A review of all council owned property both buildings and land to reduce energy consumption and to enhance energy production through solar and wind power.

          ii.        A review of all councillor council contracted vehicles to improve the use of the most energy effective means of transport, refuse collection, social care transport and other vehicles used by councils.

3.      Traffic and travel measures

           i.        Strengthening and coordinating travel to school transport measures and the adoption of walk to school schemes and traffic exclusion zones around schools at peak times

          ii.        A review of all public transport systems to maximise their connectivity and their ability through the provision of bus lanes their priority within all traffic systems. Such priority lane proposals to include, where possible, car sharing and public hire vehicles.

         iii.        The development of comprehensive cycle lanes and cycle storage facilities

         iv.        Development of cycle and safe walkways between and within settlements in rural areas.

          v.        The development of electric and hybrid car parking discounts and access to charging points.

          vi.        Development of intelligent traffic light systems and ‘red routes’ to reduce idling traffic.

4.      Education and involvement measures

           i.        The development of a partnership with schools and colleges to maximise the development of practical education-based projects to familiarise and engage young people on climate change; environment, recycling and food use and food production issues.

          ii.        Encouraging the uptake of parts of the curriculum and courses designed to increase environmental awareness and which will lead to jobs which will promote environmental sciences and action.

         iii.         The encouragement of ‘dark nights’ when shops and other high street premises will turn off their lights during the night.

5.      Economic measures

           i.        The development with commerce and industry of comprehensive strategies to reduce carbon use in manufacturing and other activities.

          ii.        The development of practical support measures to assist the establishment of new companies and their growth in energy saving sectors

6.      Planning Measures

           i.        The development of partnerships with other councils and other parts of the public sector to seek greater fuel-efficient systems and coordinated structure plans to improve transport in all planning decisions.

          ii.        Strengthen their Local Development Frameworks to ensure that efficient recycling facilities; cycling facilities and high levels of insulation are included in all new developments in residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

         iii.        Work with developers to push higher level of thermal efficiency in new homes and offices and to work with private and public sector landlords to increase thermal efficiency in existing homes.

Conference also calls for:

Liberal Democrats within English, Welsh and Scottish local government (including the respective Local Government Associations) to assist with the development of training information and other support activities. This will enable Liberal Democrats to play a leading part in the localisation of global, national and regional programmes and actions without which global, territorial and national governments will be unable to take on the heavy challenges required to defeat global warming.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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