By Lee Trewhela - Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cornwall
Cornwall Council has voted unanimously to “reverse the destruction of nature” by backing the Climate & Ecology Bill and has agreed to lobby Government ministers and Parliament to back the bill.
The Climate & Ecology Bill is a plan for a new UK law that addresses “the full extent of the climate and nature crisis” in line with the most up-to-date science. The bill is the only proposed legislation before the UK Parliament that ensures a comprehensive and joined-up approach to the emergency.
Former Lib Dem MP Andrew George, who proposed the motion, told a meeting of Cornwall Council today (Tuesday, April 18): “This was presented in 2021 and voted down, but things have moved on significantly since that time. There is strong cross-party support and momentum as people understand the significance of this.
“Cornwall should be proud of itself and what it’s achieved, and the council as well. We have a very effective and strong voice that Cornwall backs the targets, which include halting the destruction of nature by 2030.”
Councillors voted 33 for and 15 against with 18 abstentions. Green councillor Tamsyn Whiddon, who seconded the motion, said: “It’s not a climate change bill – and language is important – because if we accept that climate is changing then we are leading ourselves into a very dark place. The bill is trying to prevent change that genuinely puts human lives and all flora and fauna at risk.” She stressed there was no financial implication in supporting the bill but sent a message that Cornwall was on the side of preventing catastrophic changes “to our life support systems”.
“The bill aims to stop the destruction of nature and it costs us nothing. For those of you looking at your laptops and phones and not really caring about the destruction of nature, there are benefits to a rapid change.”
While the existing Environment Act only offers to halt the decline of nature by 2030, the CE Bill commits to reversing the destruction of nature by 2030.
The bill, which was written by scientists, experts and campaigners, was first introduced in Parliament by Caroline Lucas MP in September 2020, and is now being championed by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Rupert Redesdale. It has the backing of over 150 parliamentarians representing all major political parties.
Zero Hour, a cross-party backed campaign in support of the bill, has welcomed Cornwall Council’s vote. Dr Amy McDonnell, its director, said: “As a cross-party supported campaign, Zero Hour is delighted that so many of Cornwall councillors have voted to support today’s motion. We’re grateful for the support of every councillor who voted for today’s motion, as it builds on the strong plans the council has to restore nature loss and reduce its carbon footprint.
“Right across Cornwall, politicians, organisations, and residents are calling for the Climate & Ecology Bill to tackle the climate and nature crises, hand in hand. Today’s successful motion follows news of the support of St Ives MP, Derek Thomas – who is championing the CE Bill in Parliament – and Penzance Mayor Jonathan How, sending an even stronger message that this new legislation has wide support.”
Independent councillor Julian German said at the meeting: “The time for action is now.” Mebyon Kernow’s Loveday Jenkin replied: “I disagree, the time for action was 20 years ago, but this ensures we get action at Westminster level as well as in Cornwall. We can celebrate Cornwall taking a lead.”