Opposition fear ‘PowerPoint and hot air’ debate on climate change

A full council debate in Sheffield on the climate disaster must be ‘more than just a PowerPoint and hot air’, opposition councillors have demanded.

By Molly Williams, local democracy reporter
Monday, 24th June 2019, 4:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 2:50 pm
Extinction Rebellion protestors 'Die' at Sheffield Town Hall to force the council into more action on climate change
Extinction Rebellion protestors 'Die' at Sheffield Town Hall to force the council into more action on climate change

The special meeting was called by the ruling Labour cabinet who will announce they are bringing their carbon-neutral target forward by two decades to 2030 – a plan backed by opposing members.

The meeting on July 3 will debate how the city can achieve this target.

However Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Huggan, shadow cabinet member for climate change, raised concerns that it would not be effective enough.

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He said: “In nine years, Sheffield is more congested, has poorer air quality and its recycling rates are worse than their neighbours. It is always someone else’s fault rather than their own leadership.

“The ruling Labour group seem to like reports, unfortunately acting on those reports is the difficult part. The climate emergency is serious. This meeting mustn’t be an hour of knock-about debate without anything moving forward. We need action.

“The council has a real opportunity to take this issue seriously when it next meets on July 3, but I am not sure what we are scrutinising. The need to tackle the climate emergency it has already declared is ongoing and serious.”

The meeting is being called a ‘scrutiny council’ and will include a PowerPoint presentation and a report from the Tyndall Centre, climate researchers, followed by a debate with councillors and the public.

It follows the council’s declaration of a climate emergency last year, becoming the first large city in the UK to do so.

Council leader Julie Dore also introduced a new cabinet position for climate change last month following the local elections.

Coun Dore said: “We have seen a phenomenal coming together of people across the city to make it clear that the climate emergency must be tackled and more must be done locally, nationally and globally.

“It’s important that we keep the momentum in the city and that’s why we are looking to present the research that has been undertaken in July and to allow the public to come to this meeting and engage in this debate.”

The special debate will take place from 2pm next Wednesday.