Councillor Rachel Melly
Councillor Rachel Melly

Labour has challenged the commitment of the ruling Lib Dem-led council to its 2030 carbon neutral target after it was confirmed the council has not followed through on its public promise to recruit a carbon reduction officer, as announced in its “emergency” budget in July last year.

Following the council’s cross-party declaration of a climate emergency last spring, and the 2030 net zero carbon city commitment from Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats at last May’s elections, Labour had hoped the current ruling Coalition would prioritise carbon reduction as part of its future plans.

But the decision to employ a carbon reduction and sustainability officer in last July’s ‘emergency’ budget has been postponed by ruling councillors, as Labour councillor Rachel Melly explains:

“The Lib Dems and Greens made huge fanfare of their so-called emergency budget proposals in July last year, but nothing has happened since then on the recruitment for this crucial post. The carbon reduction officer post is vital for this council to understand how to become a carbon neutral city, but instead agreed funding for this position has been taken as a financial saving this year.  It suggests the climate emergency they like to talk about is perhaps not that urgent to them, and more something to be considered by a future administration that is actually serious about it.

“When Labour realised the ruling parties were dragging their feet, we secured through a council meeting the Lib Dems’ commitment to advertise the post by January.  But like a lot of things that go through our Lib Dem-led council, it seems to just be political posturing and hasn’t actually led to any action. This post-holder now won’t be in place until approaching a year after the post was funded in the ‘emergency’ budget of July 2019.

“We know there are frustrations on the Climate Change Scrutiny Committee about this administration’s ability to grasp the enormity of what is required to tackle the climate emergency. The carbon reduction officer is just one element in a huge body of work that needs to be done, but whose impact will far outweigh the relatively small cost.  So it makes no sense at all to put off what is essential, if the Lib Dem-Green Coalition is serious about carbon neutrality by 2030.”

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