Council's 'extreme weather' claim criticised for leaving it open to 'public ridicule'

A claim that Wakefield Council's carbon neutral pledge could "minimise extreme weather" has been strongly criticised.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 4:08 pm
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 4:09 pm

Labour councillor Kevin Swift said that the "extravagant" suggestion that the council could affect the weather risked exposing the authority to "public ridicule".

The claim appeared in a draft report outlining how Wakefield Council intends to start fulfilling its promise to become carbon neutral by 2030.

It read: "Reducing the council’s carbon emissions will have a number of benefits for the district including: Minimising the likelihood of extreme weather events and the distress and disruption these can have on residents and businesses across the district."

The council has set a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

The report has not yet been officially signed off, but will go before a full council meeting for inspection next week.

But Coun Swift, who represents Wakefield West, said: "It's very important that the things we say to the public are not open to charge.

"Therefore we actually maintain some confidence in what we're doing."

Quoting the statement, he continued: "We're doing our bit. The CO2 we don't release into the atmosphere will make a little contribution towards offsetting the forest fires in Sydney, and vice versa."

Coun Swift made his remarks in a scrutiny committee meeting on Monday.

"But the idea we've got significant sway over reducing extreme weather events in Wakefield runs the risk of exposing us to public ridicule.

"If we are to maintain confidence, we need to be careful about making extravagant statements."

Since declaring a climate emergency in May, the council has replaced some of its street lighting with LED bulbs, which it says will cut a small proportion of its emissions.

Plans for two new solar energy farms, in Ossett and South Kirkby, have also been discussed and are believed to be critical to the success of the carbon neutral pledge.

Despite this, Extinction Rebellion claimed in a letter at the end of last month that the council has "failed to act" on climate change, and outlined its strong opposition to a proposed link road around Featherstone.

Local Democracy Reporting Service