EXTINCTION Rebellion is encouraging people to think about climate change when they vote in the Worcestershire County Council elections on May 6.
The group has messaged all candidates asking them to sign up to eight environmental commitments, with the first being to declare a climate and ecological emergency and put an action plan in place to reduce net carbon emissions in the county by 2030.
Others included raising awareness of the emergency, improving air quality, more support for renewable energy, delivered faster, developing cycle networks and improving and subsidising public transport.
XR says of the 40 responses it had received, all Green Party and independent candidates agreed to all eight commitments with Labour and Liberal Democrats agreeing to at least six of the eight.
Some of the Conservative candidates supported some of the commitments but, XR claims, none were willing to declare a climate emergency and none were willing to reconsider the county council’s current net zero carbon target of 2050.
The protest group added climate should be a concern to all Worcestershire residents, pointing to this week’s World Meteorological Organisation report which describes ‘relentless, continuing climate change, an increasing occurrence and intensification of high-impact events and severe losses and damages affecting people, societies and economies’.
Michael Dunn of Extinction Rebellion Worcestershire said “Worcestershire County Council has acknowledged climate change is already having significant effects on Worcestershire, but they are delaying meaningful action.
“The impact of the climate crisis will include more frequent and widespread flooding, as well as drier and hotter summers that will harm vulnerable people and place severe stress on agriculture, water supply, and wildlife survival.
“Instead of having an ambitious plan to reduce emissions, Worcestershire County Council has chosen to stick to its 2050 target to achieve net zero.’’
He said Worcestershire was ‘lagging behind’ because 74 per cent of UK councils had already declared a climate emergency.
“Their lack of vision means we are missing opportunities to create good sustainable jobs, reduce air pollution and create a liveable future for the next generations.”
But Conservative candidate Adam Kent defended the party’s actions, highlighting multi-million pound investment in walking and cycling routes, cycle schemes on the A38, investment in public rights of way, and new housing schemes incorporating carbon- and energy bill-cutting features such as air source heat pumps and solar electricity.
He added there was also a commitment to the new demand responsive transport shuttle bus, electric cars and charging points.
And he said all the district councils across Worcestershire, including Bromsgrove, had declared an climate emergency.
“We are not just talking about it – we are delivering it.”
Visit xrworcs.org.uk for more on the commitments and candidate responses.