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Wiltshire Climate Alliance ask ‘Where is the sense of urgency?’

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Wiltshire Climate Alliance (WCA) has issued a response to Wiltshire Council’s climate strategy, suggesting that not enough concrete action have been proposed in order to meet their 2030 carbon neutrality target.  The group says that there is an urgent need for more ambition and immediate action. 

Bill Jarvis of WCA’s steering group described it as: “Recognising that major changes are needed but lacking any commitment or timescale for reducing emissions outside of the council’s own operations,” adding that “There is little sense of the urgency needed for taking action, and a dependency on future plans and policies that may take us in the opposite direction.” 

The recent IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) predicts that the world will reach or pass 1.5 degrees between 2030 and 2035 and is likely to exceed 2 degrees between the early 2040s and early 2050s. Every fraction of a degree of warming leads to more dangerous and costly impacts. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the report was nothing less than “a code red for humanity”. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.”  According to the WCA, this renewed urgency does not come across in Wiltshire Council’s strategy, which speaks of ‘exploring’ and ‘investigating’ the kinds of policies and actions that should by now be in place and well under way.   

Bill Jarvis went on to say, “The Tyndall Centre calculated, in 2019, that “with no change to current emissions, Wiltshire would use up all its budget (to 2050) within seven years”. As it seems there will be no significant change to policy or action for at least another two years, where is there any sense of urgency? 

“Stabilising the climate requires rapid, deep and sustained emissions reductions.  It is particularly concerning that the strategy provides no detail of how its objectives will be delivered, referring simply to ‘future delivery plans’. It seems clear therefore that Wiltshire Council’s decarbonisation objectives will be no more than a ‘wish list’ in the Local Plan, Local Transport Plan and other plans, most of which have completely contrary objectives and will not be in place for at least 2 years. 

“Setting the scope and direction of other plans, policies and programmes, should be at the top of the list of key principles if the strategy is to achieve its aims.  In fact, WCA want to see the strategy go further, and recommend an end to implementing climate destructive, high emission plans and policies until such time as detailed carbon reduction delivery plans have been adopted.” 

The key concerns found by the WCA range from there not being a clear path for improving public transport, to the lack of thought about how best Wiltshire Council and the county farms to generate renewable energy. 

The environmental groups added, “Wiltshire Climate Alliance is keen to continue to support Wiltshire Council and its councillors in taking the urgent action that is now required.  The solutions are clear, achievable and a large number are touched on in this document. However, they require political will to make them happen. There is limited need for more evidence gathering, investigations and assessments.  But there is an urgent need for more ambition and immediate action in areas in which others are already showing leadership.”  

“Climate denial must not be replaced by delaying climate action.  We urge Wiltshire’s residents and its elected representatives to join us in demanding better.”