YP Letters: Regional strategy needed to help tackle climate change

From: Mark Fletcher, Robin Lane, High Bentham.

What should local councils in Yorkshire be doing to combat climate change?

RECENTLY contributions to global temperature increases mainly result from humans burning fossil fuels among other causes (Natalie Bennett, The Yorkshire Post, December 19).

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that there are only 12 years left for action to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C. Even half a degree more will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for millions of people in a horrendous climate injustice.

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And there’s the disappearing wildlife – ‘climate change’ is better described as ‘climate crisis’. Actions to keep below the 1.5C threshold will require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in global land-use, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities; and global net emissions of CO2 will need to fall to “net zero” by 2050.

In the UK, carbon reductions in electricity generation have been encouraging so far, but there needs to be more urgent and effective adaptations in the transport, industry, buildings and agricultural sectors.

These transitions will chiefly be driven at international, national and regional governmental levels, including by – in Britain – county councils and unitary authorities in metropolitan boroughs.

However, there doesn’t seem to be a plan for mitigating the effects of climate change and more extreme weather events across our region. So it was good to see that the leader of North Yorkshire County Council, and leaders of neighbouring ‘upper tier authorities’, are going to ‘increasingly collaborate across boundaries’.

Some authorities already have Climate Strategies and plans that will need reviewing. North Yorkshire County Council is working to reduce council carbon emissions and is looking at the issue of single-use plastics.

However, a regional strategy in response to the findings of recent climate science would entail adaptive action in all regional sectors. To be consistent, it would include divesting from fossil fuel investments, including pension funds, and also withdrawing permissions to drill for oil and frack for gas to be in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Leaders and councillors in our region must urgently work with other relevant bodies and the public to develop a clear and achievable regional climate strategy that will inform earliest local planning and adaptive action across all regional sectors. It’s huge. Please don’t wait to start.