Council to set up Climate Emergency group

An all-party climate emergency working group is to be established in Derry and Strabane to look at further measures that can be taken locally to mitigate against the global climate crisis.
SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan.SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan.
SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan.

The move comes after the Council unanimously backed a recent motion tabled by SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan declaring a climate emergency.

Colr Durkan proposed that the local authority note that “urgent action” is required at international, national, local and individual level to “address the devastating impact of climate change”.

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She commended the Council for projects under way, and proposed they formally recognise and work with environmental campaigners, young activists, pressure groups and others in seeking to protect local people from the effects of climate breakdown.

The Council has now also agreed to become the first anywhere in Ireland or the UK to apply for membership of the Zero Waste Europe Network.

Colr. Durkan said that a recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report outlined the devastating impact of global warming and the urgent need to drastically reduce human generated emissions. She said: “This Council has been very proactive and in ways our Council officers have been ahead of the curve in terms of Climate Infrastructure Strategy and Climate Adaptation Plan. These are all important steps but more needs to be done.

“The Council has also undertaken very successful practical initiatives, for example working in partnership with Zero Waste NW, and I understand our Council is one of the first in Europe to have such an initiative. Also Council has shown its committed to removing single use plastics from Council facilities and Council events. The Walled City Marathon a few weeks ago was an example of this where plastic bottles were replaced with compostable cups.”

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Colr. Durkan also paid tribute to initiative shown by local young people.

“We have seen Derry girls and schoolchildren step up to the mark. I’ve personally been inspired by some of those young girls and moving forward it’s important we engage with those young people.”

Colr. Durkan said she wanted to include all those elected to represent local people and said that in many ways the real leadership in terms of environmental issues “has come from smaller parties and independents so we bigger parties need to step up too”.

DUP Alderman Ryan McCready said he backed the motion “100 per cent”.

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“I hope this Council follow through on this and it is not an empty motion,” he said, adding that getting notice of the motion had inspired him to walk to the Chamber.

Sinn Féin Councillor Dan Kelly said the city and district was “blazing a trail in terms of renewable energy, generating 30 per cent of the north’s renewable energy, far ahead of anywhere else in the north”.

He also said that the Council have already moved to protect carbon reserves in upland boglands and were working with partners in the Woodland Trust to plant a further one million trees.

All other parties and Independent Councillors also pledged their support, and Colr. Durkan, thanking them, said it should be “all shoulders to the wheel” moving forward.