Council leader Carl Les
Council leader Carl Les

Plans for new committee dedicated to climate change to be debated

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Senior councillors will consider plans to introduce an increased level of scrutiny to ensure that the battle against climate change is being undertaken effectively in North Yorkshire.

Efforts to deal with global warming are already being intensified, although there have been calls for a greater amount of insight into North Yorkshire County Council’s actions to tackle the climate emergency.

Members of the authority agreed at a full council meeting today (20 July 2022) that the proposals to introduce a new scrutiny and overview committee should be considered by the county council’s executive.

If ultimately approved by full council, the new addition to the authority’s existing five committees would provide an added level of scrutiny for the council’s work to tackle climate change.

North Yorkshire County Council’s leader, Cllr Carl Les, said:

Climate change is the biggest challenge which the world is facing, and the county council is fully committed to doing all that we can to tackle this crisis.

We do need to make sure that the council’s work to reducing carbon emissions and providing a clear strategy for dealing with climate change is being conducted effectively.

However, while we recognise that urgent action needs to be taken to tackle climate change, any move to introduce a new overview and scrutiny committee together with the resources needed has to be considered carefully.

There is always the possibility that climate change would be effectively pushed to the sidelines by introducing the new committee – it is not an issue that can simply be extricated from the council’s work and therefore should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds already.

Two motions put forward by the leader of the council’s Green Party group, Cllr Andy Brown, as well as the Liberal Democrat and Liberal Group were due to be debated during today’s full council meeting.

Cllr Brown’s motion called for a “politically proportionate” scrutiny committee to monitor progress on developing and implementing climate and environmental action plans across the council and its other activities.

The Liberal Democrat and Liberal Group’s called for a mandatory net zero policy for North Yorkshire, as well as an action plan to promote bio-diversity and protect the county’s natural resources.

However, a named vote saw members back a plan to defer the motions so that the executive could properly consider the proposals. There were 53 votes in favour of that course of action, with 22 against and five abstentions.

Once the executive has debated the proposals, its recommendations are expected to be discussed at a full council meeting in November.

North Yorkshire County Council is already stepping up its efforts to tackle the causes and impacts of global warming and members of the executive have officially declared a climate emergency.

A new climate change strategy is being prepared to drive forward a host of measures to help dramatically reduce North Yorkshire’s carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change.

Officers from the county council and district and borough councils are working on a draft of the strategy, which is set to be introduced after a new authority is launched to cover the whole of North Yorkshire on April 1 next year.

The plan of action will set out how the new North Yorkshire Council will develop work that is already under way to reduce harmful carbon emissions.

The initiative is set to increase the new authority’s ability to capture and store carbon, as well as placing a renewed emphasis on biodiversity and taking advantage of the huge natural resources across England’s largest county.

The new strategy is aimed at helping to achieve an ambition of the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership that the region can become the first “carbon negative” area, helping the nation’s ultimate aim of achieving a net zero target for carbon emissions by 2050.

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