By Leah Conway –
Climate campaigning organisations Climate Emergency UK and Huddersfield Friends of the Earth have assessed the progress made since 2019 to mark the third anniversary of Kirklees’ declaration of ‘Climate Emergency’. Kirklees Council, along with all other West Yorkshire local councils, agreed to achieve ‘Net Zero’ carbon dioxide emissions by 2038.
The campaigners are marking the anniversary today, Wednesday 16 February, with a demonstration outside Huddersfield Town Hall – dependent on weather conditions. The demonstration will take place ahead of Kirklees Council’s meeting.
An audit on Kirklees Council climate plans
Climate Emergency UK has recently published scorecards. The scorecards have evaluated all local councils based on their climate action plans.
Kirklees Council has received 0% out of 100% because they haven’t published a climate action plan.
Similarly, Huddersfield Friends of the Earth (Huddersfield FoE) has undertaken an audit of the Council’s response to the climate emergency. Huddersfield FoE has evaluated the Council’s actions over the last three years, and overall have found it ‘wholly inadequate’.
Huddersfield Friends of the Earth audit: The Positives and Negatives
Kirklees Council positives since 2019
- The Clean Green elements of the Council Plan 2021-22. The plans include positive steps towards energy-efficient housing developments, electrification of the council’s vehicles and tree-planting.
- The Council has supported the launch of an independent Kirklees Climate Commission.
- The Council has stated that it supports the divestment from fossil fuels of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund within three years.
Kirklees Council negatives since 2019
- So far, there is no climate action plan with measurable targets for cutting carbon within Kirklees. The Council have said a roadmap is due in June 2022, but Huddersfield FoE sees this as well overdue.
- There is no evidence of demonstrable carbon emission cuts within Kirklees over the last 3 years since the declaration was made.
- Various schemes have increased highway capacity across Kirklees, which is likely to encourage more road carbon emissions in the 2020s rather than reducing it. An example pointed out is the current road expansion plans at Cooper Bridge and the A629 Halifax Road (Phase 5).
- The Council has not challenged insufficient West Yorkshire level action, particularly on transport, which is at the core of achieving climate action plans.
“The climate clock has ticked down”
Chayley Collis, Coordinator of Huddersfield Friends of the Earth commented: “With the third anniversary of those climate emergency declarations, we all need to ask what has actually been achieved as the climate clock has ticked down through those 3 years, and will Kirklees and the Mayor’s Plan now accelerate actions across the 2020s in order to achieve its target of Net Zero?”
“We’ve done an audit of decisions taken in the 3 years since the climate emergency was declared, and, whilst there are both positive and negative developments, overall we have found that Kirklees Council’s response to the climate emergency has been wholly inadequate”.
“Increasing highway capacity around the district is likely to encourage more road emissions in the 2020s. Cutting down trees as part of these road expansion plans adds insult to injury. The council’s policies should be supporting our response to the climate emergency, not undermining it.
At the West Yorkshire level, the problem is even bigger. Emissions from transport alone, the largest sector, have to be reduced by 250,000 tonnes a year. If that fails to happen, West Yorkshire’s response to climate emergency would collapse.”
“Greater ambition & urgency”
Louise Garrett from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth added: “The Kirklees Council response since 2019 has been inadequate because: it hasn’t yet produced an action plan or faced up to the quantitative scale of carbon reductions needed; its transport strategy contradicts its climate strategy; and like other WY councils it needs to demand greater ambition & urgency at the WYCA level.
“How will it be possible to tackle the climate crisis and achieve the enormous scale of annual emissions reductions required in the 2020s if WYCA and individual WY councils take this long just to prepare their Action Plans? Imagine if national and local governments had responded at this pace to COVID, yet climate collapse represents an even greater threat to humanity than the pandemic.
“We know that Kirklees Council is trying hard, within the district and alongside Metro Mayor Tracy Brabin, to bring forward plans to tackle climate change. Our audits have revealed however that their proposed actions would be too little, too late.
“Huddersfield FoE and campaigners across the region will not accept this situation at either the Kirklees or West Yorkshire level. We will be campaigning with others for more urgent action throughout this ‘3rd anniversary’ year.”
Check out KLTV’s video of a past climate demonstration: