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Our Declaration

A Climate and Ecological Emergency was unanimously declared by Swale Borough Council on 26 June 2019 which committed the Council to a number of actions.

We declared a climate and ecological emergency on 26 June, 2019 to draw attention to the urgent need for effective action to reduce carbon emissions and reverse the decline in biodiversity in Swale.

The declaration sets the goal to reduce carbon emissions from our own operations and become carbon neutral by 2025, as well aiming for net zero across the borough of Swale by 2030.

The Carbon Trust produced a report on the Council’s carbon footprint that has acted as the basis for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Action Plan 2020, setting out the steps that need to be taken to achieve net zero across our own estate.

Our declaration

A Climate and Ecological Emergency was unanimously declared by Swale Borough Council on 26 June 2019 which committed:

  • To declare a ‘Climate and Ecological Emergency’
  • To draw up an action plan with improvement in energy efficiency and making space for nature as key priorities in all strategies and plans
  • Pursue the Swale Strategic Air Quality Action Plan 2018-22 and to actively lobby all responsible authorities to improve air quality within Swale
  • To provide leadership by taking all measures within our control to make Swale Borough Council’s own operations carbon neutral by 2025, taking into account both production and consumption emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3)
  • To engage with businesses, organisations and residents to facilitate the action required to make the Borough of Swale carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3)
  • To undertake actions including, but not be limited to, spatial and transport planning to make fewer journeys necessary, improvement to the energy efficiency of new and existing housing and buildings, improved public transport especially in rural areas; encouraging active transport, developing the infrastructure for EVs; deploying renewable energy at every opportunity, while continuing to safeguard our wild places, ancient woodlands and hedgerows
  • To call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible
  • To call upon the MPs for Sittingbourne & Sheppey and for Faversham &Mid Kent to support this motion
  • To work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C
  • To work with partners across the Borough to deliver these new goals through all relevant strategies and plans
  • To become a ‘Plastic-Free Council’ by eliminating single-use plastics from the Council’s operations, whenever possible, by 2021
  • To request the Cabinet, working through the Policy Development and Review Committee, to report the actions the Council will take to address this emergency to Full Council by the end of the 2019/20 municipal year
  • In meeting this pledge, the Council will take steps to avoid any adverse impacts on our most vulnerable residents
  • This Council pledges to produce in January of each year, between now and 2030, an annual report detailing the council’s progress against Swale’s carbon neutral action plan, enabling members, residents and other stakeholders to hold the council to account for the delivery of this pledge

How will this affect me?

We all need to work to keep global warming below 1.5 °C to prevent  disastrous effects both globally, and in our local area. In Kent, the effects of climate change will be experienced through:

  • High temperatures
  • Flooding and coastal change
  • More storms and heavy rainfall
  • Drought
  • Soil erosion
  • Sea level rise  by up to 0.3m by 2040 and 0.8m by 2080

This will likely be felt through warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers, with an increase in average summer temperature of 2-3°C by 2040 and 5-6°C by 2080.

Click here to use the BBC tool to see how different climate warming scenarios will affect weather systems in Swale.

This is can result in:

  • The loss or reduction of agricultural land
  • Overheating in homes and public buildings
  • Excess summer deaths
  • Flooding of homes and businesses
  • Disruption on the travel and transportation networks
  • Plant and animal diseases
  • Risks to health, wellbeing, productivity and infrastructure from high temperatures

More information can be found on KCC Kent’s changing climate page.

A way through: Carbon Neutrality by 2030

It has been suggested by leading scientists at the Tyndall Centre that Swale Council should aim to emit no more than 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide before 2100 in order to make a fair contribution to the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This global goal aims to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

At 2017 emission levels, Swale would use this entire budget within seven years. 

This is why we are working towards carbon neutrality by 2030. This requires an 80% reduction in annual carbon emissions by 2030, leaving 20% of emissions to be offset. The steps in our action plan will help to achieve this goal and contribute towards the global effort against climate change.

What is climate change?

Climate change is the change in the earth’s climate due to the increase in greenhouse gases as a result of human activity. Greenhouses gases trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere resulting in global warming.

Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history and the trend is accelerating.

We’re seeing real impact, with the 20 warmest summers on record (according to the World Meteorological Organization) occurring in the last 22 years and the top four in the past four years.

The greenhouse gas most people have heard of is carbon dioxide, which is produced by the burning of fossil fuels - used in your car, to heat your home, to produce your food, to create the plastics in everyday products and so much more. You can calculate your carbon footprint to find out how your lifestyle creates carbon emissions, but also how you can help reduce your impact through everyday simple steps.

You can read more about calculating your carbon footprint.

What is the ecological emergency?

Our declaration recognises the commitment to make space for nature as a key priority, safeguarding wild spaces, ancient woodlands and hedgerows. The main challenge we are facing is a loss of biodiversity. Natural ecosystems are integral to the food chains we depend on, as well as ensuring amazing creatures don’t face extinction. For example, plastic litter results in micro-plastics making their way into our water systems - and ultimately our bodies!

Our local ecology also plays a part in naturally regulating climate change - trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.