Green campaigners unite in new 4,000-strong group to pressure Harrogate Borough Council on climate change

Thousands of environmental campaigners from across the district have joined forces to heap pressure on Harrogate Borough Council to tackle climate change.

Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 5:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 5:14 pm
Thirteen campaign groups from across the Harrogate district have come together to pressure the council on climate change.

More than 4,000 members from 13 campaign groups have united out of frustration to form Harrogate District Climate Action Network (HD-CAN) - a new group which wants to see more decisive action and public engagement in response to the climate crisis.

A spokesperson for HD-CAN said while it recognised some of the environmental efforts made by the council, it is "very concerned" about the progress made and that "swift and radical" changes are needed if the worst consequences of global warming are to be avoided.

"We believe there needs to be a step change in the ambitions and speed of activity, one which reflects the growing and alarming body of scientific evidence," they said.

"This is about developing true collaboration between communities and council to address the most pressing issue of our time.”

In 2019, the council set up a climate change coalition to bring together residents, businesses, environmental groups and politicians to promote carbon neutrality.

However, it has been plagued by criticism from some members who said it is in danger of becoming a "talking-shop" and that serious action is needed - not just words.

But councillor Phil Ireland, the council's cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, has defended the coalition and said clear progress has been made during its first year.

He said: “Responding to the climate crisis facing us all is not just an issue for the council. It’s an issue for every resident and business across the district.

“That’s why we created a climate coalition, so we have the right organisations around the same table to jointly tackle climate change together.

“When compared to councils of our size, and with the resources available to us, we have made good progress so far against an ambitious action plan."

Last year, more than half of all UK councils declared climate emergencies. Harrogate Borough Council, however, did not.

Instead, councillors agreed to match the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's target of a 45 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

It is also the council's aim to have a net zero-carbon economy by 2038.

Councillor Ireland said he has agreed to meet with representatives from HD-CAN to discuss how the council's carbon-reduction efforts can be supported by groups within the district.

HD-CAN is made up of the following campaign groups; Extinction Rebellion Harrogate, Harrogate District Friends of the Earth, Harrogate District Cycle Action Group, Harrogate & District Green Party, Knaresborough Sparks, Long Lands Common, Love Sustainable Knaresborugh, Nidd Gorge Community Action, Nidderdale Climate and Environment Group, Pinewoods Conservation Group. Sustainably Harrogate, United Nations Association Harrogate and Zero Carbon Harrogate.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter