On Tuesday 11th June 2019 Birmingham City Council Council unanimously passed a motion declaring a Climate Emergency.
The public gallery was filled with young people and folk from the campaigning groups who had worked so hard over the past months to reach this point.
The motion was brought with cross party support and tabled by the leader of the opposition group. The debate was non-partisan with Councillor after Councillor speaking about the importance of the motion and thanking the young people for helping the Council reach this watershed moment.
Councillors linked the motion to the local benefits of tackling climate change – including clean air, warmer insulated houses, improved public transport, addressing present splits in society, protecting green spaces and carbon sinks, health and well-being benefits. One councillor said that sustainable life styles should become the default position, not a life style choice by the wealthy. The Leader of the Council asked the young people and campaign groups to keep up their pressure as Birmingham, a resourceful city, needed to ‘invent its way’ into a low carbon future.
All were agreed that passing the motion was the easy bit and that the real challenge lay in turning the words into action. The motion included constituting a Climate Emergency Task Force to support the Council move from declaration to delivery drawing in cross sector, expertise, capacity and capability to capture the investment and economic opportunity arising from a low carbon future. The previous day when receiving the Footsteps letter from Birmingham community faith leaders, Councillor Waseem Zaffar had undertaken to include faith group representation in the new task force.
Footsteps’ secretary Chris Martin commented:
“Passing the motion presents a major opportunity for all the faith groups to make a faith based contribution to tackling climate change in Birmingham. The motion recognises the social justice, inequality, natural environment and health issues involved in moving to a low carbon future. The faith communities are all involved in these areas.”