Mayor of Liverpool appoints Climate Change champion

The Mayor of Liverpool is to appoint the city’s first Climate Change champion to the city council’s cabinet.

Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins has been chosen to take up the role on the day the city is set to declare a Climate Change Emergency at a special debate in Liverpool Town Hall.

Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, who is also a board member of the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority, will become Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability.

And her very first task will be to vote tonight, along with every city councillor, on passing a motion that will require the city council to cut its carbon output to zero by 2030.

In a cross party motion, the leaders of all four political parties will also pledge to commit the city council to work with individuals and partners across Liverpool to support them in reaching a net zero carbon position by 2030.

A major challenge to the city will be reducing waste. The council annually collects 176,000 tonnes of waste, of which approximately one third is recycled, with the remainder costing £25 million to treat.

This evening’s Full Council will also involve a vote on creating a dedicated Climate Change Select Committee with a remit of developing and implementing a comprehensive work programme across four key areas:

  • Transport and Air Quality
  • Buildings and the Built Environment
  • Waste, Recycling and Energy
  • Low Carbon Economy

Following the special debate the council will also seek an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for the Environment to seek a review of national funding for carbon-free energy initiatives, with a view to achieving national net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 and help prevent a global temperature rise of 1.5c by 2100.

It is estimated Liverpool has already cut 840,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere since 2005 and has planted more half a million trees in the past 25 years, with Liverpool City Council currently on target to cut its carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.

Key to this achievement includes a policy of only buying green energy, installing 27,000 LED street lights across the city, investing in solar panels in major venues such as at ACC Liverpool and introducing ultra-low emission vehicles into its fleet.

The council is also a major partner in the URBAN GreenUP project and as one of the lead cities Liverpool will be investing £4m into a range of new green infrastructure to tackle climate change impacts; including a new phase of tree planting in the city centre, with 12 new trees to be planted over the coming weeks as part of the new City Bus Hub at Old Haymarket.

It is also investing in cycling and has already installed 100 bike stations, with the Mayor pledging to match fund a £2m programme creating new cycle routes across the city.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “If we are to make a real difference to the threat posed by Climate Change we need to act now and lobby national Government to help cities like Liverpool achieve these carbon reduction targets.

“We’ve radically cut carbon emissions over the past decade but that is just the start. We can do so much more and the new cabinet member and select committee will have a wide remit to ensure we do.

“Laura has a fantastic track record as an environmental campaigner and will bring a real dynamism to this new role. She has a great awareness of the challenges the city faces and has an acute sense of how everyone has a part to play in this historic challenge.”

Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins said: “I’m extremely honoured and excited to be asked to be the city’s first Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability.

“This role carries a huge responsibility to ensure the city council delivers what will be a radical programme to achieve a net zero carbon position by 2030. The decade ahead is going to shape the rest of this century in how we tackle climate change – and the only real way to achieve that is for everyone to play their part.

“We all need a complete overhaul of how we think about air quality and transport, from getting to work and to school to how we take holidays.

“Cities like Liverpool also need to improve bio-diversity and our natural environment – be it through more wildflower meadows to how we promote community gardening and producing more locally grown food. The key to all of this is about reducing waste especially at home,from food packaging to composting.

“Tackling Climate Change is going to be a long journey and we’re just at the beginning. The city council and its partners can achieve a lot,but we need the people of Liverpool to be with us every step of the way to avoid this emergency becoming a full blown catastrophe.”

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