Great Dunmow Town Council will be asked to declare 'climate emergency'

Dr Stuart Withington, deputy chair of Flitch Way Action Group. Picture: Stuart Withington

Great Dunmow town councillor, Dr Stuart Withington - Credit: supplied

Great Dunmow Town Council's meeting tonight (Thursday) will ask councillors to declare a climate and ecological emergency.

They will also be asked to support a motion to ask The Essex Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels.

Councillor Stuart Withington, chair of the Climate Action Working Party, said action was needed as decisions have an impact on health and lives.

He said:  "I thought we really ought to be paying more attention to this."

The proposed climate and ecological emergency declaration has a raft of suggested measures.

They want the council to commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 or earlier - including looking at the council's own vehicles, and at indirect emissions such as electricity suppliers.

Proposals also include creating an action plan by the summer to target a range of issues. The council is being asked to commit resources to support the work.

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Fellow councillor Paul Anderson said: "We have been working hard over recent months in the council’s Climate Action Working Group, to prepare a clear action plan with targets and timescales, setting out how the council as a community leader can commit to move to a carbon-neutral and ecologically positive position, at the earliest opportunity.

"We see the proposal to declare a climate and ecological emergency as an exciting first step in this process, in line with similar declarations taking place across the country by local, regional and national governments."

Cllr Withington also wants councillors to support a motion asking The Essex Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels which he believes could be done through the Pension Strategy Board.

He fears there are parallels to investing in fossil fuels with the past, where people invested in the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, where knowledge and choices were not aligned because of business interests.

He added: "We know the science, we know the facts, we need to stop doing what we are doing."

Councils and organisations in other parts of the country have already chosen to divest.

Essex County Council said The Essex Pension Fund is an independent financial body.