A climate emergency has been declared by Bognor Regis councillors.
The town council members decisively agreed this week to ensure they would do as much as possible to safeguard the future of the community which they represent. The 13-2 vote at Monday’s council meeting followed the same outcome at the council’s community engagement and environment committee in September.
Cllr Inna Erskine (LD, Pevensey) said failing to act to tackle actions which worsened the current situation would have far-reaching consequences.
“We have to put environmental considerations first. We only have one planet, one town, one home and we have one chance to put them first. We have to act for the sake of our children,” she said.
Cllr Samantha Staniforth (LD, Orchard) said: “We have to pay attention to this. We do need to declare an emergency and make sure our policies fall into line with this. It’s the right thing to do at this particular time.”
Cllr Matt Stanley (LD, Marine) said the motion was in keeping with the opinion of the public at a green forum held by the council last month.
“This is possibly the most important decision this administration has made so far. It’s saying that the town council recognises the situation of climate change and we are going to be looking at doing something about it.
“Climate change is a scientific fact. It’s happening and we have a duty as a council to recognise that and I think we can do a lot.”
The idea for the declaration was made at the annual electors’ meeting last March, he said.
But Cllr Sandra Daniells (I, Pevensey) said the motion was posturing and the declaration would have consequences which could be far-reaching for the council.
“I don’t think you have recognised this and thought it through,” she said. “Have you looked at what precisely needs to change?”
She had stated early in the meeting council events, like the Drive Through Time annual motor gala and its encouragement for people to drive old cars to the gathering, were at odds with the declaration.
The statement which the councillors voted on read:
“Of 353 councils in England, 227 of them have declared a climate emergency. On October 8, 2018, the IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate – released a report on the state of climate science.
“Not climate opinion, climate science. It places responsibility on the individual, the family, the community, the council and the government – at every layer of accountability – the duty to take this emergency seriously, and address it with all appropriate measures.
“The Zero Carbon Britain Report set a target of reducing local climate impact by 2030 – and a significant number of the councils that have declared an emergency have adopted similar targets.
“As elected representatives of our community, it is our duty to pay heed to the serious warnings and ensure that we, as a town council, are doing everything we can to safeguard the future of this community as best we can.”