South Kesteven District Council is recruiting a
Sustainability and Climate Change Officer to assist the authority in tackling Climate Change! The deadline for applications to this exciting job is 14th October 2019.
The recruitment of this Officer is a direct result of the Council’s declaration of ‘Climate Emergency’ following a debate last month’s Full Council. I originally put the issue on the council agenda as a motion (submitted immediately after the previous Full Council meeting). However, in the intervening months, Cllr Peter Moseley (Con) presented a Climate Emergency report to Cabinet which also appeared on the agenda of Full Council. Cllr Moseley’s proposal included the establishment of a ‘Task and Finish Group’ to investigate how SKDC can address issues of Climate Change.
Our two separate proposals differed in terms of specific objectives and targets but happily I was able to meet with Cllr Moseley to discuss the differences between our two Climate Emergency proposals and to try and find a middle-ground.
It was agreed that I should propose an amendment to Cllr Moseley’s proposal which would include three key points:
- Establish environmental performance indicators
- Set a target of achieving ‘net zero’ emissions for the Council as early as possible before 2050
- Set a target of reducing emissions from the Council by 30% by 2030.
We each took the draft compromise amendment to our respective Party groups and the proposal and the amendment were discussed by Council on 29th September.
Disappointingly, the decision to spend up to £50,000 on external advice and the appointment of an Officer was not unanimous. My original motion proposed £100,000 to ‘pump-prime’ sustainability and carbon reduction initiatives but I was willing to concede that £50,000 would be sufficient to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, the notion that tackling issues of Climate Change would have a financial cost was too much for some Conservative councillors.
The Chair of Governance and Audit Ctte, Cllr Ian Stokes (Con) made the following comments at the meeting:
“I’m very old and I’ve seen a lot of climate change in my lifetime… but I really can’t see what benefit we do here with all this palava. Nobody in this country would not do this but it’s a worldwide, and nobody in the worldwide is helping. So I can’t see why we should do this. I can’t support this and I certainly can’t support the allocation of £50,000. I think that is a complete waste of money!”
Cllr Bob Broughton (Con) later offered a similar dissenting view:
“I can’t support this spending £50,000. There’s no more environmentalist than I. In Market Deeping alone over the last 30 years I have planted 500 trees. I can’t support spending £50,000 of our taxpayers’ money…on a survey.
I’ve just noticed on the TV this week that Poland has just opened a new coal mine. China pumps more emissions into the atmosphere than the rest of the world combined*. While I agree with this in principle, what we will do is simply a drop in the ocean and I can’t support spending £50,000 on this.”
Interestingly, this is the first time for many months that any Conservatives have spoken up in a full council against the declared view of their Leader and Cabinet. I suppose it should be welcome news that, finally, Conservatives have been able to break rank. I’m just a bit disappointed that opposing action on climate change is the issue on which they wish to make a stand. Most of the rest of the world appears to be waking up to the calls of Greta Thunberg and the XR movement asking politicians to be serious about climate change but at South Kesteven we seem to have proven that dinosaurs are not extinct.
Despite the cynics, there were some very serious comments in support of the declaration and the spending. Cllr Lee Steptoe (Lab) started his speech by saying:
“The planet’s burning. I’m just stating a fact.”
When it came to the vote, Councillors voted unanimously in favour of declaring a Climate Emergency and most Councillors also voted to invest £50,000 in external advice and recruiting a Climate Change Officer.
If you know someone who would suit the role of Climate Change Officer, please make sure they know about the vacancy by sharing this blogpost or by directing them to the application form on the SKDC website. Here’s a bit about the role:
“The Sustainability and Climate Change Officer will be responsible for the development, co-ordination, implementation and evaluation of South Kesteven’s internal and external environmental management activities.
This includes undertaking actions to promote and support the delivery of the Council’s carbon reduction targets by working with members and officers across Council services to promote and secure buy-in to the necessary changes needed to assist the Council in reaching its carbon reduction targets.
The Sustainability and Climate Change Officer will be a project manager who will use negotiation, persuasion and influencing skills to engage key stakeholders in order to develop and deliver a robust work plan.”
*Fact Check: Cllr Broughton may be correct about the Polish coal industry but on China’s emissions he is mistaken. China is responsible for 23% of global CO2 emissions and is the largest overall polluter although if measured by CO2 per head it wouldn’t rank in the top three.