For decades, Greens have spoken out on the climate while others were silent. The first declaration of climate emergency in the UK was made by a Green councillor. In November 2018, Councillor Carla Denyer led Bristol City Council to declare a climate emergency and committed the city to going carbon neutral by 2030. By mid 2019 this had inspired more than 100 other councils to take the same action. Concerned citizens across the country are pushing their local authorities to show the same level of ambition. The climate emergency needs everyone and goes beyond party politics: Greens are working with every councillor, whatever their affiliations, who share our goal of bringing carbon emissions down to zero by 2030, so as to stay within the 1.5 degrees global warming.
In Parliament, Caroline Lucas was the first MP to make the call for declaring a climate emergency in the House of Commons. Her Early Day Motion in March 2109 was supported through all parties by more than 100 MPs. Shortly afterwards Green Peer Jenny Jones took the baton to the House of Lords, by forcing a debate in April of the same year. This laid the groundwork for the official opposition to push Parliament to declare a climate emergency in May 2019.
The Green Party did not do it alone: We welcome and work with the XR movement, the Youth Strikes for the Climate and many others.
Declarations of Climate Emergency are the first step. The second is to make them reality. The challenge is great, we will need to decarbonise all areas of our lives: Insulate houses, make energy production and transport fossil fuel free, plant 3 billion trees over the next decades and much more. This means that Councils not only have to make their own operations carbon neutral but also lead local businesses, schools, media and citizens to do the same, and demand full commitment from Westminster government. Where Councils have commissioned Action Plans, citizens will need to support the councillors in ensuring that the plans are fit for purpose and actually implemented. Local Green Parties are already working with citizens and activists to make that happen.
Determined action on climate change is also an opportunity to improve lives through better public transport, cleaner air, warmer homes, lower fuel bills and a large number of jobs that will create a low carbon society.