A councillor and climate change sceptic who planned to lead Wiltshire Council to abandon the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change, a document signed by more than 300 councils pledging their commitment to fighting global warming, has seen his efforts spectacularly backfire.
Local community groups were dismayed at the motion and mobilised an email campaign and petition asking for leadership and environmental sense in Wiltshire about climate change. Not only did the Tory Councillor’s motion suffer the humiliation of a resounding 84 – 8 against, but Wiltshire Council has now promised to join the 10:10 campaign by committing to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 10 per cent in 2010.
Nine councillors had put their names to the motion led by Councillor Rod Eaton to pull-out of the agreement, but eventually only six voted for it. Two abstained and one changed his mind. A total of 84 councillors voted against the motion.
Despite the abject failure to convince fellow members that the effects of global warming are uncertain, Rod Eaton said: “I think we managed to get our point across today and make fellow councillors realise that there is uncertainty towards climate change.”
However, Councillor Toby Sturgis, Wiltshire Council’s portfolio holder for the environment, said: “I’m pleased we’ve made this pledge to continue to combat climate change. It shows Wiltshire Council is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.”
His views were shared by the local community, two hundred of whom signed a petition, delivered to the Town Hall by local people both angry and upset at the prospect of Wiltshire Council turning its back on tackling climate change. Hours later however, they were celebrating the unexpected triumph of witnessing the Council not only reject the motion but also sign up to 10:10, which was launched at The Tate Modern on 1st September by Age of Stupid director Franny Armstrong and The Guardian.
Beck Dawson, Sustainability Director at The Hannover Consultancy, who attended the 10:10 launch and who is one of the founders of Marlborough Climate Pledge, which encourages the Wiltshire town’s residents to be aware of how they can reduce their energy output and carbon footprints, was jubilant.
“The motion put forward spectacularly backfired on the councillors because it provided an opportunity to discuss the 10:10 campaign which the council has now agreed to sign up to.”
Juliet Davenport, chief executive officer of renewable electricity supplier Good Energy, in Chippenham, said: “I’m really glad that the council has seen sense.
“Wiltshire Council has a great opportunity to take the lead on this important issue, by winning the hearts and minds of the public and ensuring that the minority of individuals who have no vision of a future low-carbon world don’t stand in the way of the majority that do.”
Marlborough Climate Change has launched a campaign ahead of the Copenhagen summit talks in December and wants the Prime Minister to receive at least one letter a day for 100 days from people in the Marlborough area urging him to make Britain the loudest voice for global change and action at the talks.
Dawson’s own daughter became the first person of the proposed 100 to send a letter to the PM and she helped the baby post it on her first birthday last Wednesday.
The letter said: “I am one year old today. The devastating environmental, climatic and economic impacts of climate change will affect me for all of my lifetime” and invited Gordon Brown to show leadership at the summit in December.
The group is also screening Age of Stupid at Marlborough Town Hall on 7th October. Anyone interested in Marlborough’s progress can visit www.climatepledge.org.uk and sign up via the Marlborough Climate Pledge Facebook page.
Beck Dawson of Marlborough Climate Pledge was a recipient of a Guardian-UnLtd social entrepreneurship award in 2006.