Council Declares Climate Emergency

Our group has been campaigning for over two years for the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk (BCKLWN) to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take necessary action to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. We have written letters, collected hundreds of signatures on a petition, attended and spoke at countless meetings, held protests and even engaged in civil disobedience to try to get the council to listen. 

António Guterres secretary-general of the UN called the most recent IPCC report which summarises the latest climate science a “code red for humanity”, adding “there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.” We are seeing fires in Greece, famine in Madagascar, flooding in New York and London, and innumerable other examples, all as a direct result of failure to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Rebels from our local group and across the UK have come together in London since 23rd August pushing for our UK-wide change from the government as part of this year’s two weeks of mass non-violent civil disobedience. Today (9th Sept 2021) we see the BCKLWN council leaders have put forward a climate emergency motion, the first step in listening to the stark warnings, and all councillors came together to support this emergency declaration (bar one abstention).

Now the emergency has been unequivocally acknowledged, the hard work must really begin. We call for the council to create and be led by a Citizens’ Jury to receive evidence from experts and to deliberate on actions to decarbonise west Norfolk and restore our natural world. The changes that are necessary to address the climate and ecological emergency will be deep and unprecedented, and so the public need to have a say in it. 

We welcome the recent change for the target date of BCKLWN corporate emissions being brought forward to 2035 from 2050, but this newfound urgency needs to translate to the whole borough. The council’s corporate carbon footprint is about 0.2% of the total borough footprint. The council’s recent draft climate action plan is woefully inadequate for the whole borough and needs to be drastically revisited in line with the council’s declaration. A climate emergency can not mean distant target dates and vague gestures at actions. There needs to be deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions now. 

Robert Shippey, 29 from Downham Market, who has been taking part in the London protests said “I hope this declaration marks a significant step-change in the council’s response to climate change. Our climate has had dangerous levels of greenhouse gasses my entire life, every year we delay just makes the problem increasingly worse. We need action now.” 

With the international COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November, the UK needs to be showing leadership in seriously tackling the climate crisis. Our brothers and sisters across the world, most of whom hold no responsibility for the vast majority of GHG emissions, are looking to rich nations like us to finally take responsibility and do our fair share. We in West Norfolk are particularly vulnerable in the coming decades, but people are dying from our inaction right now.