“This is happening now. This is not something far away.”
So said 16-year-old Amy Elliot as she told councillors that climate change is “one of the biggest threats mankind may ever face”.
Impassioned pleas by Amy and other young people helped prompt York council to declare a climate emergency in the city – and councillors voted to make York carbon neutral by 2030.
Amy told the meeting on Thursday night (22 March):
It is my firm belief that we need to act now and in a big way.
We can’t continue carrying on as if nothing’s happening, oblivious to the pain and suffering happening now and yet to come.
Our future is on a knife-edge, but it is not impossible. There is still hope.
Danyal Ismail, another youngster speaking at the meeting, said the city has a “moral responsibility” to tackle climate change, adding: “Hundreds of young people marched in the city centre to call for action to be taken.
“Adults have failed my generation with years of inaction.
“The fact that children are being forced to take matters into their own hands is quite frankly an embarrassment.”
Green Party group leader Cllr Andy D’Agorne asked the council to declare a climate emergency, which would see the council commit to making York carbon neutral by 2030 as well as lobbying the government for money and extra power to meet this target.
And he called for a report on the action being taken to make this happen to be presented in six months.
Speaking at the meeting, he said:
York has a proud history of radical social action. This declaration has to mean hard choices that make significant year-on-year reductions for CO2 emissions.
Let’s not assume it will be easy but recognize our responsibility as a council to lead the way with a wider benefit for our communities, local economy, environment and the planet.
A serious issue
The plans gained support from all political groups, with Conservative Cllr Chris Steward saying: “This is genuinely a real serious issue. It’s got unanimous support which is very good, so we can all work towards it for the for the greater good of the city.”
Labour group leader Cllr Janet Looker said: “What is needed now fundamentally is that we all take ownership of this. Councils should do their part, governments even more significantly must do their part.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr Andrew Waller said: “I’d like to welcome the engagement by the public on this issue.
“To see so many speaking at a full council meeting demonstrates the interest amongst generations.”
Just over a week ago, hundreds of children marched through the streets of York to show their frustration over the Government’s approach to climate change.
School pupils and members of the group YouthStrike4Climate and Extinction Rebellion protested in St Helen’s Square on March 15.
Councillors voted almost unanimously in favour of declaring a climate emergency and the decision was met with applause from campaigners watching the meeting from the public gallery.