How should I vote to save the planet?

The local elections are on May 6th. If you live in Sheffield you have 3 votes. 

One for the referendum, where you will be asked if you want the Council to continue with its “strong leader” model whereby the 10 cabinet members make the decisions or change to a more inclusive, democratic committee system that involves all the elected Councillors.

The second is to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner.

The third is to elect one of the three councillors that represent your ward. When elected they serve a 4-year term of office. This is a particularly important election as it is possible there will be a new administration in the Town Hall. There are 84 Councillors. Currently, 45 are Labour, 26 Liberal Democrats, 8 Green Party, 1 independent and 4 seats are vacant. 

Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield_City_Council

What are the parties promising to do about the massive threats we face, in the climate and ecological emergencies?

The Labour administration declared a climate emergency in 2019 following pressure from Extinction Rebellion and the green pressure groups. Since then they have been slow to act, but they have commissioned a report which has been published by Arup called Pathway’s to Zero Carbon. It details a plan to enable Sheffield to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2030 and was discussed at the recent climate summit. Science tells us we need to reduce our emissions by 100% by 2030 or risk feedback loops that could lead to our planet becoming uninhabitable. The plan is useful as it shows how the Council must act now in order to stand any chance of meeting our targets. We need, for instance, to fully insulate all our homes and workplaces and replace gas boilers with non-fossil fuel heating, such as air source heat pumps. We can’t delay action on these projects, they must start now. All the political parties need to unite behind this report and lobby the Government for funding to implement it.

Last week the Labour Administration failed to declare an ecological emergency, even though the science is clear that we are experiencing the 6th mass extinction of species on our planet. 

All the parties have some good things to say about the environment but  they lack the urgency required to react to the emergencies we are facing. Labour say “ We are working with Sheffield Climate Alliance towards making our city carbon neutral. This includes 100,000 extra trees as part of Labour’s Trees and Woodland strategy. Major investment in parks and green spaces and £50 million for connecting Sheffield-a project to promote walking, cycling and public transport across the city.” They will also be continuing the grey to green project in the city centre.

All 3 main parties support the idea of a Citizen’s Assembly to develop policies to enable us to achieve net zero carbon. Labour promised this two years ago but it has not yet materialised.

The Liberal Democrats acknowledge the climate emergency and the need to become carbon neutral by 2030. They will “Support efforts locally to reduce waste by improving recycling and improving our air quality. Enact policies that will enable us to make our contribution to national and global targets.”

Some stand out Lib Dem policies include 

●supplying schools with air quality monitors 

●a ‘Greener Sheffield Fund’ – a pot of money for local communities to decide how they would like to invest in their environment eg street tree retention, cycle routes, recycling.

The Lib Dems and Labour  recognise ”the benefits of the incinerator to reduce the need for landfill and obtaining energy from waste”.  However, the incinerator is actually a major emitter of carbon dioxide. To reach zero carbon, this has, at some point, got to change. We are trucking waste from Derbyshire and Nottingham to feed the incinerator when we should be doing far more to reduce waste. 

It’s no secret that I am a member of the Green Party, so they will be getting my vote.  The Greens say “The climate crisis needs government spending on the scale of what was available for the Covid pandemic.  At a local level, our budget proposals focus on what is achievable here and now.”

These include

  • A whole staff team to work on the climate emergency, warmer homes and local, clean energy production, such as solar farms;
  • £3 million Carbon Reduction Investment Fund
  • Better walking, cycling and public transport; and the return of the Electric FreeBee bus
  • Helping the poorest with £2 million to offset higher council tax bills
  • £1m for solar panels on council housing; £500,000 for schools
  • £1m for low-traffic neighbourhoods / active travel
  • Cheaper bulky waste collection for low-income households

Local Government has a crucial role in helping society tackle the climate and ecological crisis. Please find out about your candidates and vote for the people who will do the most to protect our community and planet. 

Further details here (the previously advertised event on 17th April has been rescheduled due to the Prince Philip’s funeral.)

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