In July 2019, Full Councildeclared a Climate and Biodiversity emergency. 

Following this, a cross-party Climate Emergency Advisory Panel (CEAP) was established to conduct an audit of the Council’s current carbon footprint and develop a pathway to reach net zero by 2030. 

Full Council in July 2019 (FC29/19) confirmed that:

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council recognises the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence pointing to man-made climate change and the harmful impacts this is having on natural habitats and ecosystems, biodiversity and our lives in general.

It notes the early work undertaken to date by the Council including efforts to promote active travel, increase recycling and the reduction of plastic usage in the Town Hall but understands it needs to do more.

It recognises that it has a responsibility to take a firm lead on reducing the council’s and the wider borough’s carbon emissions and in furtherance of this responsibility agrees to: 

  • Declare its recognition of global climate and biodiversity emergencies.

  • Set up a climate cross party task force to start a dedicated report within the fiscal year with actions that it needs to take to address this emergency including how the wider community including businesses, organisations and individuals can be encouraged to make their own contributions to meeting a goal to make the Borough carbon neutral by 2030. This report will include a plan to conduct a green audit of all council services to ensure that weight is given to the environmental and sustainability impact as well as cost and which will inform the next iteration of the Council’s five-year plan. 

  • Ensure that forthcoming plans and strategies (including the Local Plan and the next iteration of the Five-Year Plan) set out ways in which the Council can make its contribution to reduce carbon emissions, the degradation of the environment and combating climate change by agreeing an ambition to make the Council’s operations carbon neutral by 2030.

  • Lobby central government to provide additional resources and to grant the necessary freedoms to deliver the above.

  • Take steps with partners to proactively include young people in the process, ensuring that they have a voice in shaping the future by setting up a Citizen’s Assembly as a way of also involving residents and businesses in the process as Climate change will have implications for generations to come.  (Update – The Citizens Assembly was discussed at Full Council on 21st April 2021 with members debating the options and the significant costs at a time when budgets are constrained. The Councils focus is on its own Corporate Carbon reduction plan although a borough wide draft Climate Strategy for 2022 is also currently being developed, which will include extensive consultation with and input from our citizens and will in due course be hosted on ‘Talking Point’.)