Rugby council declares climate emergency, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030

Councillors from across all parties backed the motion.
Councillors from across all parties backed the motion.

Rugby council declared a climate emergency at a meeting last night, July 18.

The declaration will see the council adopt an action plan to address their impact on climate change within six months - with the ultimate aim to move towards 'carbon neutrality' by 2030.

Motions to declare a climate emergency were originally submitted by the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups - but before the meeting Conservative leader Cllr Seb Lowe told the Advertiser that he welcomed the motions and looked forward to working with their proposers to move forward.

Cllr Seb Lowe, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to work across the political divide to make this declaration, and I would like to thank the opposition groups on the council for their commitment.

“The council has already made steps towards carbon neutrality, but by declaring a climate emergency we have acknowledged the significance of the issue."

In a motion adopted, councillors noted the progress already made, such as the urban meadows programme, which uses long grass to capture carbon and transfer it into the soil, and the use of solar panels on council buildings.

The council has committed to establishing a cross party working group to advise the council’s cabinet on the actions and timescales needed to move towards carbon neutrality by 2030.

And the working group will present its initial recommendations within six months.

The council will engage with partner councils, Rugby businesses, environmental groups and residents to inform future actions.

Cllr Howard Roberts, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and public realm, said: “Reducing carbon emissions is an urgent but complicated issue.

“I will be asking the cross party working group to identify all of the key factors that contribute to the council’s carbon footprint.

“This vital piece of work will help us to identify ambitious yet realistic targets to achieve carbon neutrality.”

The leader of the Labour group, Cllr Maggie O'Rourke, said: "Many councils have already declared a climate emergency and pledged to act to cut emissions.

"This is a chance for Rugby to lead the way, we owe it to future generations in this town and everywhere else not to sit on our hands.

"This is an urgent issue that will affect everyone and we are willing to work with anybody to tackle this before we get to the point of no return."

Liberal Democrat Cllr Noreen New said: “Climate change is the most pressing issue facing us today and local government has a leading role to play in tackling the issue. It is vital that we work together to reduce emissions and make the transition to a low-carbon society.

“60 councils across the UK have declared a climate emergency, as well as the UK Parliament. They have committed to take radical action to combat climate change. Rugby Borough Council must take urgent action to limit global warming.”

More information on the working group and carbon neutrality will be published at www.rugby.gov.uk/carbonneutral.