By Dave Wilson / EnvironmentLatest News / 0 Comments

A climate emergency is upon us. That fact is not altered by the welcome decision of the City Council, last Thursday, to declare it: nothing has changed as a result of the consensual decision to recognise the seriousness of the challenge that faces the whole of humanity.

We have work to do.

I’m writing this at just before 9.00 a.m. The heat is already unpleasantly close to 30oC, something that would have been exceptional 10 years ago but has become normal. This is just one symptom of the problems we face as a result of 150 years of unconstrained industrialisation and the commercial exploitation of geology and nature. In the past 60 years or so we’ve recognised examples of this and acted on each individually: the London smogs of the 50’s; rivers killed by industrial pollution; the use of ecosystem destroying pesticides like DDT;  ozone depleting chemicals in aerosol sprays; lead in petrol … the list is endless. But we’ve failed, so far, on the big picture issue of global warming. Now, the younger generation in particular have called us to account. The party is over for industrial societies. Now it is time to clean up.

We have  work to do.

In that context, the decision of this City Council is welcome. Its commitment was strengthened considerably by five amendments put forward by Labour councillors, three of which were accepted outright:

  •  to undertake environmental impact assessments of every decision the Council takes
  •  to include housing developers in the list of those to be worked with to deliver net zero carbon activity
  •  to embed the target of reducing carbon emissions within the Corporate Plan and set annual targets which can be effectively monitored

A further two Labour proposals were referred to a new working group on climate change:

  •  to hold a citizens assembly to identify and report on priorities and actions
  • to establish in independent review body to report on progress

So far, so good. We have a solid policy which looks to the Council not only to address its own carbon emissions but to cajole, encourage, persuade and where possible enforce other organisations, commercial and public, to do the same. We have a challenging target to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, which will – if we achieve it and everyone else globally does the same – only just be in time to prevent catastrophic and irreversible climate change. If we don’t, then the future of humanity, as well as many other species, is under real and imminent threat.

We have work to do.

That work involves taking the principles set out in the resolution and applying them successfully to specific activities. Not least among these are house building and design, public transport, private car and lorry journeys, and energy usage and production. This is why Labour proposed a Citizens’ Assembly: because many of the decisions to be taken will impact on how we live, and will inconvenience (to put it mildly) everyone who lives here. Getting advice direct from a representative sample of people from the whole District is key to ensure that people buy into the decisions that have to be taken, while ensuring that people who live in our villages are heard as clearly as those who live in the towns and City. Labour is also acutely aware that a substantial proportion of the population voted for the Green Party in the May elections, yet is not represented at all in the Council chamber. The Council has a responsibility to make sure that their voices are heard, and that their expertise on these questions is made available.

We have work to do – but no monopoly on the wisdom of how best to do it.

It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We’re surely on that road, but we have the chance in this district, in this country, in Europe, and globally, to change the direction we’re going. It really is not optional if human life – if it continues – is to be worth living. The time for talking is over. We have work to do.

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Hundreds of people marched against racism in Canterbury on Wednesday 12th June and in solidarity with the victim of a vicious attack on an exchange student of Lebanese descent visiting Canterbury last week. The attack on Thursday 6th put the 17-year-old German exchange student is in a serious condition in hospital after he was attacked by a group of teenagers, leaving him with severe head injuries that required emergency surgery.

The march was organised by Canterbury Labour Chair Ben Hickman but well attended by all political parties wishing to send their good wishes to the young victim and his family who, whilst living in Germany are not EU citizens, and as such had to seek an emergency visa to visit him after the attack. In the immediate aftermath of the attack Rosie Duffield had approached the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and urged him to expedite matters so the boy’s parents could visit as soon as possible. Mr Javid intervened personally on Saturday to arrange an emergency visa.

The clear message of themarch was to “say it loud, say it clear, don’t give in to racist fear”, and a massive community repudiation of racism and violence.

Everyone present sent their collective thanks to thank the emergency services fora speedy response, and especially to the Kent Air Ambulance Service who airlifted the victim speedily to a London hospital. The Crowdfunding appeal set up to support the victim’s mother and family in travelling to visit is still running.The family have said they want some of this fund to go to the Air Ambulance Service as they are so thankful for it. If you want to contribute please go to:https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paulm-johnson

Here are some photos of the march together with recordings of speeches given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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