Sheffield councillor hits back at Extinction Rebellion criticism

A Sheffield councillor has hit back at claims the local authority is not doing enough on climate change.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 7:05 pm
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:27 pm

Councillor Mark Jones, Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for environment, streetscene and climate change, rejected criticism from Extinction Rebellion, who say the Council have failed to take ‘meaningful action’ since declaring a climate emergency last year.

The group plan to hold a “die-in” outside Sheffield Town Hall on Wednesday, February 5 in protest and will also submit several petitions the full council meeting taking place that day.

Coun Jones met with them on Wednesday to discuss their differences and provide updates on pledges the Council previously made on the environment, including going carbon neutral by 2030 and holding a citizen’s assembly to guide their green strategy.

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Sheffield Council's cabinet member for the environment Mark Jones. Picture Scott Merrylees

He said: “I was disappointed at the tone of some of it. In meetings with them over the last couple of months they are coming with demands rather than conversation. I’m not sure that’s helpful.

“I’m hoping they went away somewhat reassured with where we are and where we are going. I understand their concerns, they want us to move fast.”

Coun Jones added: “I don’t mind that [the protest]. It’s their right, they are trying to make sure everyone knows what’s going on.”

He also reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to their earlier pledges.

“We are absolutely determined to achieve the citizen’s assembly later this year through voices from across the city.

“They [Extinction Rebellion] wanted a voice on the assembly. I can’t guarantee that because we are selecting people through a random lottery. I’m more interested in hearing voices from across the city rather than one or two individuals who see themselves as a spokesperson without a mandate.”

The plan to go carbon neutral by 2030 is still on, he confirmed.

“There’s some element of them [Extinction Rebellion] coming from a campaign point that nothing is happening and that is far from the case,” he added.

“We are trying to put in place the measures to ensure we are achieving what we want to achieve.”