In June 2023, two members of the public attended the Leeds City Council Climate Emergency Advisory Committee open forum. The open forum allows members of the public five minutes to speak about matters relating to the “climate crisis.”
Below are excerpts from the open forum where Suzanne and Trudie questioned the thinking that underpins policymaking and informed councillors of the wider implications of the measures being pursued by the council.
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Suzanne and Trudie presented information to the Leeds City Council that demonstrated the “climate emergency” plans being considered have been long in the making and how far-reaching their impact will be if they are implemented.
“The amount of information available in relation to net zero, the climate emergency and the plan to make Leeds carbon neutral by 2030 – which is just six and a half years away – is enormous,” Suzanne began. “Do you know there is no consensus on what a climate emergency is? Do you also know that the UK government has not actually declared a climate emergency?”
The idea of a ”climate emergency” in the UK was an approval of a motion put forward by Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, there was no vote taken on the subject, Suzanne explained.
In May 2019, then leader of the opposition Corbyn gave a speech in parliament:
Today this House must declare an environment and climate emergency … There is no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis … I was deeply moved … by children on strike from school chanting “our planet, our future”. … We are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge of climate activism with groups like Extinction Rebellion forcing the politicians in this building to listen … The protests … are a massive and necessary wake-up call … We must be absolutely clear-eyed about the Paris Agreement. As significant as it is – it is not enough.Jeremy Corbyn declares environment and climate emergency, Labour Party, 1 May 2019
Leeds City Council was not immune to this agenda-driven activism. It declared a “climate emergency” after pressure from youth activists and Extinction Rebellion, Suzanne said. “Extinction Rebellion is funded in part by a man named Chris Hohn, a multi-billionaire who at one point was paying himself over a million pounds per day.”
At the beginning of last year, The Guardian reported that hedge fund manager Chris Hohn is the single biggest individual donor to Extinction Rebellion (“XR”). “Humanity is aggressively destroying the world with climate change and there is an urgent need for us all to wake up to this fact,” he said when he was revealed as XR’s main funder.
Suzanne continued: “As well as pressure from youth climate strikers and Extinction Rebellion, Leeds City Council appears to have used evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their associated report as the basis for declaring a climate emergency. That’s it, nothing else.”
“As of last month, there were 1,551 signatories to the World Climate Declaration. These are scientists from around the world who are casting doubt on the very existence of an emergency. The World Climate Declaration states clearly that climate change is a fact but not a crisis.”
The Leeds City Council website states its ambition of net zero emissions by 2030 will have positive benefits for health, equality, travel, housing and the environment. “What if the policies being pursued would impoverish local people and bring our local economy to its knees rather than improve it?” Suzanne asked the Council.
“I believe that decisions are being made at a local level without full knowledge of all the facts and that is a massive worry … Does it bother you that far from empowering people to make thoughtful decisions, [the net zero] measures may simply enable the implementation of totalitarian control reminiscent of the Chinese Communist Party?”
Trudie then took the floor. She outlined two documents that, if implemented, will “change the face of our city and town forever.” One was ‘Absolute Zero: Delivering the UK’s climate change commitment with incremental changes to today’s technologies’ and the second was ‘The Future of Urban Consumption in a 1.5oC World’.
“In response to The Limits to Growth publication [in 1972 by the Club of Rome], the birth of Agenda 21 at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and the rollout of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2019, the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Nottingham and Imperial College London produced the report entitled Absolute Zero: Delivering the UK’s climate change commitment with incremental changes to today’s technologies,” Trudie said.
“In this report,” Trudie told the Council, “they talk about how the UK will rapidly get to net zero emissions by 2050. The authors of the document tell us:
- all airports in the UK except Heathrow, Glasgow and Belfast will close in the next decade and all-out air traffic will cease by 2050;
- all existing forms of blast furnace production will be halted by 2050 meaning that the construction industry will have to radically change its production methods or close;
- buildings will become smaller and much more expensive;
- all naval shipping will cease by 2050 with the possibility of some freight ships resuming after 2050 if they can be fuelled by nuclear power;
- all consumption of beef and lamb will cease by 2050 along with all overseas food that is not imported by rail;
- all non-renewable energy production will seize by 2050.”
The second report Trudie outlined was The Future of Urban Consumption in a 1.5°C World report, published in June 2019 and co-created by C40 Cities, Arup and the University of Leeds. The C40 Knowledge Hub has conveniently supplied an image of the main interventions for each of the consumption categories “that cities should target” to achieve their dystopian plans.
This report “has even more targets [than the UK Fires report],” Trudie said and briefly listed them:
“No consumption of meat by 2030; only three new items of clothing per person per year by 2030; no private vehicles by 2030; and, only one short-haul flight once every three years per person by 2030.
“Is this the world you want to live in? Is the legacy you want to leave for your children and your children’s children?”
You can watch Suzanne and Trudie’s speeches to the Leeds City Council below and the full 2-hour meeting HERE, the meeting moves onto the open forum for the “climate emergency” at timestamp 12:36.
If you don’t want this future for your children or your children’s children, you need to get involved.
You can view a list of councils that have declared a climate emergency on Climate Emergency UK or mySociety. Climate Emergency UK has attempted to place links to media coverage whereas mySociety has simply listed the councils with an emergency declared “Yes” or “No” and the year by which the council is targeting to become “carbon neutral.” These lists, which may not be up to date or may contain inaccuracies, give a quick indication of whether the council has formed a Climate Emergency Advisory Committee and so could be conducting open forums. To check whether this next step has been taken by a council visit their website and search for committees, meetings etc. A list of UK councils and their websites can be found HERE.
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