Perth and Kinross Council has officially declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.
Councillors declared the emergency and approved PKC’s climate action annual report and action plans for 2023/24 at a meeting on Wednesday, November 9.
The report warned of a financial shortfall which led one councillor to condemn the SNP council for allocating more than 14 times the amount needed to fulfil climate pledges – “including vital work to prevent flooding” – on additional funding for the Cross Tay Link Road.
Over the past 12 months PKC has created the Perth and Kinross Climate Change Commission, expanded its home energy advice services and reduced CO2 emissions from council buildings by 347 tonnes.
And PKC’s Stick to the Six campaign for household recycling bins – which saw some residents have their bins confiscated – has seen ‘contamination’ from non-recyclable materials reduced by 7.2%.
But the report said more support was needed from external funders – including national governments – to help local authorities meet their net zero targets.
It stated that “in line with all local authorities, compared to the scale of investment required with the looming statutory intermediate targets, in or around 2030, council resources will not be sufficient to change the pace of action.”
Labour’s Bailie Alasdair Bailey slammed the SNP administration’s decision to allocate £32.5m extra funding to the Cross Tay Link Road and “put their money where their mouth is on climate change”.
He said: “£2.3 million is the extra funding needed to deliver the council’s existing pledges on climate change – including vital work to prevent flooding – which we’ll only consider for allocation in February due to this council’s current financial position.
“So far this autumn, we’ve allocated over 14 times more funding to a road than this climate change action plan is waiting on.
“Under the SNP this council has two committees fighting it out over who wears the trendy climate change hat but no budget with which to start even the priority projects in its own action plan.
“I therefore call on the SNP administration to put their money where their mouth is on climate change.”
Youth climate conference
Last Friday saw the first ever Perth and Kinross youth climate conference.
Held at Dewars Centre in Perth, it was attended by more than 80 Perth and Kinross pupils.
Two of them – Perth Academy’s Emily McGregor and Blairgowrie’s Nicole Rattray – delivered a special message to councillors on Wednesday urging them to take action against climate change, speaking as the “ones to endure its effects”.
Nicole finished by saying: “Taking action to combat climate change while we consider those who are most vulnerable to it and its effects such as young people and vulnerable communities is essential in ensuring a fair and just transition.”
SNP Kinross-shire councillor Richard Watters, who convenes PKC’s climate change and sustainability committee, hailed the youth conference a “great success.
Moving the report, he said: “Thinking of Nicole and Emily’s message – we cannot progress if we are not helping the ones who are and will suffer the most from climate change effects as it has to be a just and fair transition.”
Seconding was his committee’s vice-convener Liberal Democrat councillor Liz Barrett.
She said: “As Cop27 are meeting in Egypt, I am very pleased to second these recommendations to council.
“With our incredibly mild autumn, and the terrible flooding that caused misery and distress in Perth City South and other areas in August and September, it is increasingly clear to everyone that we must recognise that we are facing an urgent crisis both for the climate and for biodiversity.”