Authors: Cllr Christopher Hammond, Labour Leader of Southampton City Council and Alan Whitehead MP

Southampton’s Labour Council recently approved the ‘Green City Charter’, which aims to minimise the impact of climate change, reduce health inequalities, reduce pollution and create a more sustainable approach to economic growth. Cllr Christopher Hammond said ‘Southampton is leading the way on tackling climate change, something that Labour has done locally since Alan was Leader in the 1980s’.

Alan Whitehead, Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change commented: ‘I’ve spent much of my career working to tackle climate change and trying to make Southampton a more sustainable city; from introducing geothermal energy to the area when Leader of the Council to my current work on Labour’s policy for decentralised and clean energy.

Throughout this time, I have encountered opposition by Tories, not all, but the majority, ranging from denial to refusal to act. Nationally, the government looks set to go over the current carbon budget; we are nowhere near where we need to be if we are to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

I spoke recently in Parliament that if we don’t act we will be too late to stop catastrophic levels of global warming. The politicians of today are the ones who have to act urgently and cities like ours will need to be at the forefront of this action.

I was disappointed to see the local Conservative party hold up the launch of the council-led Green City Charter for party political reasons. The charter contains ambitious targets to achieve a carbon neutral city by 2030 and had a number of stakeholders, businesses and schools signed up ready to work towards this goal.

Further to this, the Tories nationally have refused a large portion of the funding requested for Southampton’s clean air plans. Some of this money was earmarked to help pay for the popular shore to ship infrastructure, which if installed would have a huge impact on air quality around the port area.

Climate change is the national and indeed international emergency of our time and it requires all bodies local, national and international to work together to establish a permanent low carbon economy. I hope Southampton Conservatives will have a change of heart and get behind our city leaders in tackling this most important issue.’

Cllr Hammond concluded: ‘we’re not going to sit back whilst the planet fries and our residents have to breathe in polluted air, which is why we’ve set ourselves some of the most ambitious targets ever adopted by a UK council, showing local leadership in the face of national and local Tory resistance.

Details of the Green City Charter proposals at Southampton City Council can be found here at the Cabinet meeting on 19 March 2019 – this is currently subject to ‘call-in’ by OSMC (Overview Scrutiny Management committee) meeting Thursday 4 April 2019. The original Charter launch scheduled for 21 March was delayed as a result.

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