A SWANSEA councillor said he was terrified for his seven and three-year-old grandchildren as he wound up a climate emergency debate.
Cllr Peter Jones said a warming planet had “appalling consequences” and that urgent action was needed at a national level throughout the world. He added: “Local Governments, like here in Swansea, have a role to play.” Cllr Jones introduced a climate emergency motion in front of a packed public gallery at full council on June 27. It was passed unanimously.
Cllr Jones, who is a former RSPB conservation officer, blamed the unrelenting rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on “the consumer society”. He added: “I would like to congratulate campaigners from Extinction Rebellion (campaign group), when traditional debate and advocacy have not produced the political actions and responses that are required.”
Cllr Jennifer Raynor said young people were leading the way on the issue, and “all power to them”. She said: “We have got to do things in a different way.”
Cllr Sam Pritchard said it was his generation which would have to live with the consequences of a warming world.
“This is not something fictional,” said the 24-year-old.
Cllr Chris Holley said a widely-shared photo of huskies pulling a sledge on meltwater-topped sea ice in Greenland had brought the gravity of the situation home, while deputy council leader Clive Lloyd said his “moment” had come watching the BBC drama Years and Years.
Cllr Lloyd took aim at the social and environmental impacts of throwaway fashion, and branded the UK’s public transport system “an absolute disgrace”. He said: “I would like to be able to take a train to London. Why does it cost a third of the price to go by car than train? On Saturdays and Sundays, (rail) delays take place – it’s an absolute scandal.”
The deputy leader said the council had a legal as well as a moral duty to take action, due to Wales’s Well-being of Future Generations Act, which requires public bodies to consider the long-term impact of their decisions.
Councillor Andrea Lewis said much of the action on climate required had to be led by the Welsh and UK Governments. She added: “This is about changing hearts and minds.”
Cllr Mary Sherwood said people should raise awareness among MPs of the dire climate situation, while Cllr Lyndon Jones said his Conservative group fully supported the motion. He said: “It is vitally important that we leave this world a better place.”
He said there would be challenges but also opportunities, and added: “We need to be ambitious and realistic, and we need to take people with us.”
Concluding the debate, Cllr Peter Jones said he felt “too much realism has prevented Governments and people from doing the right thing.”
Referring to his two grandchildren, he said: “I am terrified of the things that they’re going to face as this century proceeds.”