CAMPAIGNERS say more work needs to be done after Redditch Borough Council declared a ‘climate emergency’ on Monday.
Councillors unanimously backed the newly re-established Climate Change Panel, but fell short of setting a date for the town to become carbon neutral.
They promised to use the new cross-party working group for urgent action rather than just for ‘small talk’ – despite it being held behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.
Youth Strike 4 Climate member and Green Party candidate Claire Davies said: “The climate emergency declaration passed at the full council meeting on Monday is, in its present form, worth nothing.
“The council has tasked the Climate Change Panel with addressing crucial details such as targets to meet net zero carbon emissions.
“Until those details are known however, we have no idea how seriously the council is taking the climate crisis.”
Labour leader Coun Bill Hartnett (Church Hill) asked Tory councillors why the public should be excluded from future meetings, when without their pressure, the council would not have made its declaration.
“We should be encouraging residents to get involved, only excluding them if sensitive information is discussed.
“I think it sends out the wrong message to have the panel meet in private.
“And we need more ambitious deadlines than the national target of being net zero by 2050.”
Coun Brandon Clayton, who will chair the panel and is the council’s lead member for environmental services and climate change, said holding council panels in private was normal.
“We would have to go through various steps to make it open to the public and that would just delay things further.”
Redditch MP Rachel Maclean said: “Our council has declared a climate emergency. That’s real leadership.
“We must keep on pushing to ensure policies and actions are followed through.”
The council’s call for urgent action on climate change has come after months of pressure from Youth Strike 4 Climate group, which has consistently made its presence known outside the town hall.
Last Friday, September 20, on Global Climate Strike day, the group enjoyed its biggest turnout yet.
Claire Davies added: “All of this started with teenager Alisha Zahid, who stood up months ago to demand action from our council.
“Unfortunately she couldn’t be with us last Friday but I know she would urge everyone in Redditch to continue putting pressure on their elected council representatives to treat this as the emergency it is.”