Climate Emergency and Liverpool City Council
Reflections on Labour's rejection of our Climate Emergency Budget.
By Councillor Tom Crone
Across the world people are waking up to the urgency of responding to climate change. UN reports last year spelled it out in the starkest terms yet. Councils and governments around the world are declaring climate emergencies and starting to put in place plans to make it a reality. After many years as a Green party activist and campaigner on the issue of climate change it feels like the mood is finally changing and action is inevitable.
But not in Liverpool. The budget prepared by the ruling Labour administration contained just one mention of climate change, and nothing allocated to tackling this crisis.
Green Councillors drafted an alternative budget which created a £120m Climate Emergency Fund of £30m per year for the next four years. This would have enabled significant investment in renewable energy, home insulation, and redesigning our roads for sustainable transport. The budget is made by reallocating money that is earmarked for pot hole repairs and road resurfacing. Possibly an unpopular decision with some people, but given the crisis we face, this is how the Green Party would choose to do things differently.
Unfortunately the Labour Party decided to vote against our proposals. Their speeches against it followed their fixed formula of deriding and criticising both the content of the proposals and the motivation and competence of the Green Party. That their response was so predictable and formulaic shows they completely failed to engage. The muted applause those speeches got suggest many within Labour ranks probably knew they were on the wrong side on this one. Liberal Democrats also voted against the proposals.
The next day Labour cabinet member James Noakes phoned Radio Merseyside to claim we hadn't made it clear where the money for our proposals would come from. However he knew that it couldn't be debated in the chamber if it hadn't been approved as legal by the city solicitor and the director of finance.
So, we are now left with a budget that ignores the defining crisis of a generation, and a Labour Party desperate to undermine proposals they know are sound, and which show clearly that another future is possible. A future where decision makers in Liverpool say enough is enough and show real commitment to starting the green revolution here in our great city.