'We have a decade to turn this around' - School children, workers and politicians gather in Doncaster to join global climate strike
Doncaster has just a decade to do its bit to combat the growing climate emergency, a borough MP has said.
Hundreds of residents and schoolchildren joined the global climate strike in Sir Nigel Gresley Square in Doncaster town centre to call for action to save the planet.
Primary School pupils clutching colourful placards took up chants of ‘save our planet’ before the speeches began.
The rally on Friday came after Doncaster Council unanimously backing a motion to declare a ‘climate emergency’ in the borough – a move adopted by dozens of other councils across the country.
Doncaster North MP and former Labour leader Ed Miliband addressed the crowd and said the borough and the rest of the world had a ‘decade to turn it around’.
Elected mayor Ros Jones said the borough will do all it can to reduce council carbon emissions to net zero ‘as soon as possible’.
Doncaster youth parliament member Alannah White and Doncaster Council chief executive Damian Allen also gave speeches urging everyone to do more to combat the environmental problems society faces.
Mayor Jones said: “This is all the council standing together – this is not anything other than we collectively have to do to make Doncaster a better place.
“We have 12 years to make the necessary changes to limit a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 celsius. That is not a long time and it’s a blink of an eye.
“The target for Doncaster achieving net zero carbon emissions will be advised to me by the newly-appointed climate commission chaired by Ed (Miliband).
“Once we get our baseline position established we can fully identify how we can get there.
“The council will be soon be acting on a range of measures that aim to reduce the carbon emissions of this council to net zero as soon as possible.”
Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband told the crowd: “We are here because of the fierce urgency of now, because we know politicians and governments have not done enough.
“We have a decade to turn this around but I also think we are here because we know we can do it.
“Let us confirm that we can tackle this climate emergency and to focus onto a better world for our kids and grandkids.
“Over the next six months, we will be working on what we can do, when we can get to zero emissions but also this is about tackling the emergency we face this is about avoiding disaster but it is about something else.
“It’s about creating a better world for people where there are more jobs, cleaner air with no air pollution and where people lead better and healthier lives.
“Councils need to do their bit, governments need to do their bit but in the end this will only work if people do their bit.”
Before passing the climate emergency motion inside Civic Office on Thursday, councillors gave their views on how best the council help in tackling environmental issues.
Conservative councillor Jonathan Wood, who represents Sprotbrough, said: “There are some very simple things that this council directed from the executive could achieve almost immediately.
“It’s a great frustration to me as I’ve served on planning for many years and seen councillors come and go who share similar ideas. We see applications come through where there are simple wins to combat climate change.
“Simple initiatives like greenery on building plots making sure while there might be economic benefits which would give us reasons why officers would tell us we’d have to endorse it.
“How easy would it be for us as a council to say we won’t accept any application unless if a tree is chopped down we’ll replace it with two – if grassland is taken up then we’d like to make an effort to keep some of it.”
Labour Coun Ian Pearson, who represents Conisbrough, said: “I totally support the resolution that’s been put forward but I’m deeply concerned that we’re talking and not doing.
“I hope we work with well-known international firms in this area that are notorious for supplying so much packaging which fills your wheelie bin – and all they’ve sent you a screw.”
Conservative Coun Nick Allen, who represents the Bessacarr , said: “There are easy wins in the planning process but something I’d like to throw out there that we want to pursue is that, within two years, we’re going to be a plastic-free council and if we can make that commitment now.
“We need to monitor this and have proper progress targets.”