Leeds activist’s impassioned plea for climate change action from council

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A disabled climate change activist has made an impassioned plea for Leeds City Council to do more to combat climate change at a meeting today.

Gledhow resident Nick Hodgkinson, who suffers from motor neurone disease, delivered a letter to the chair of the council’s newly-formed climate change advisory committee, questioning how the council’s self-imposed climate emergency is compatible with a proposed expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport.

Climate change activist Nick Hodgkinson, who suffers from motor neurone disease, with a letter to the chair of the Leeds City Council climate change committee Coun Neil Walshaw.

Climate change activist Nick Hodgkinson, who suffers from motor neurone disease, with a letter to the chair of the Leeds City Council climate change committee Coun Neil Walshaw.

The committee met for the first time, as members took part in a debate on how to tackle climate change in the city.

Mr Hodgkinson, 56, stated in his letter: “First of all, let me say I applaud the efforts Leeds City Council are making in tackling the climate change, and we need a big conversation about how to deal with the climate emergency.”

But he went on to ask why the council excluded greenhouse gas emissions by air travel to and from Leeds Bradford Airport from its “roadmap” to reduce carbon emissions, referring to plans for the airport to double the number of its passengers by 2050.

He also questioned whether science and technology experts had been invited to submit evidence to the committee, which will be advising the council’s decision-making executive committee on climate-related issues.

Mr Hodgkinson hands the letter to Coun Walshaw following the meeting.

Mr Hodgkinson hands the letter to Coun Walshaw following the meeting.

Following the meeting, Coun Walshaw responded: “Me and Nick have been having an exchange of emails about this for a couple of weeks now.

“He raises some big questions and some good arguments that we have to confront.”

He said he would give Mr Hodgkinson a “thorough response” to his questions, adding: “[The committee] is not a PR exercise – we are going to be having hard discussions with people across the city, and there are going to be hard decisions to be made.

“This is a challenge to our survival – the world is full of the remains of civilizations that did not take things seriously enough, and we don’t want to be one of them.”

The first meeting of the council committee heard about work the authority was doing following its “climate change emergency” announced earlier this year.

Councillors were told by officers that the city needs to halve its greenhouse gas consumption over the next five years in order to meet carbon targets.