PRESSURE is mounting on Solihull Council’s new leader to take action on climate change in the borough after committing West Midlands Combined Authority to an emissions pledge for 2041.
After spearheading the WMCA’s ‘climate emergency’ declaration, council leader Ian Courts last week set a target for the region to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2041.
But opponents have charged him with hypocrisy, as Solihull Council has still not committed to a ‘climate emergency’ or an official emissions pledge.
He has told us the council is ‘aiming’ to be net carbon neutral by 2030, but the council itself has not explicitly committed to this target.
In recent weeks, many councils have declared a ‘climate emergency’ – with some committing to targets – and the council has been urged to ‘catch up’ by campaigners.
Warwickshire County, Rugby Borough, Birmingham City, City of Wolverhampton and Cannock Chase councils have all made declarations.
Coun Courts, WMCA portfolio holder for the environment, energy and HS2, said: “Last month we declared a climate emergency in the West Midlands and now we have started to set out what that means in practice and the action we need to take.
“This is an important step towards regional collaboration which is going to be vital if we are to tackle climate change head on.”
Coun Courts says climate change will be discussed at a Solihull Council meeting in November – but he has not specified whether this will amount to declaring an emergency.
Opponents have also argued that if he was as serious about the climate crisis as he appears to be in his WMCA role, he would call forward the meeting.
Greens councillor Max McLoughlin also questioned why the Solihull Tories referred the Green Party’s February motion to declare a climate emergency to a meeting almost a year later.
He said: “You don’t call an ambulance in an emergency and wait for it to come in November.
“In February we asked Solihull Council to be a leader but now it is behind the curve and an exception among the region’s councils.”
Solihull Council opposition Greens as well as national pressure group Friends of the Earth have urged the council to declare a ‘climate emergency’ immediately.
Green Party Chelmsley Wood councillor Chris Williams tweeted: “Congratulations Warwickshire County Council.
“So Coventry, Warwickshire and Birmingham have all declared a Climate Emergency now.
“Will Solihull Council catch up?”
The WMCA has now also committed to shorter term targets of a 36 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2022 – and a 69 per cent reduction by 2027.