Labour-run Westminster City Council declares an Ecological Emergency to halt nature loss and achieve biodiversity net gain in our City.
Four years ago, after intense pressure from Labour, Westminster City Council declared a Climate Emergency that committed the Council to reducing its own carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2030 (where its carbon emissions are reduced close to zero with the remaining carbon offset by trees and other measures that absorb carbon) and to work with businesses and residents to achieve Net Zero for the City of Westminster as a whole by 2040. However, unlike some other councils, this declaration missed out the other, intertwined emergency: the Ecological Emergency.
Now a Labour-led authority, Westminster City Council will at today’s Full Council meeting build on and expand the Council’s important work getting to grips with the Climate Emergency to acknowledge our impact on nature and biodiversity, and our responsibility to reverse this, by passing a motion to formally declare an Ecological Emergency. Nature impacts our everyday lives, with mental and physical health benefits, reducing heat stress and flood risk, and increasing pride in the area we live. Tackling the combined Climate and Ecological Emergency is central to Westminster Labour’s mission over the years ahead.
The Council will also declare its support for the national Climate and Ecology Bill. This Bill is currently going through parliament and has received support from MPs and councils from all parties. Leader of the Council, Cllr Adam Hug, will write to all three local MPs to ask them to follow the Council and support the Bill.
The motion also begins to address the recommendations of the successful Westminster Citizens’ Climate Assembly, a key manifesto pledge from Westminster Labour. The Assembly recently presented its recommendations to the Council’s Climate Leadership Group, and the Cabinet has approved the initiation of a cross-council programme to respond to their findings.
Cllr Ryan Jude, Deputy Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Biodiversity, said:
“The climate and ecological emergencies are intrinsically linked. They exacerbate each other, and local authorities have a role to play in fighting both. I am delighted we have declared an Ecological Emergency, building on the new initiatives we have launched in Westminster over the last year, including No Mow May, banning glyphosate on council land, and our award-winning interactive Environmental Justice Measure. This declaration is just the start. The actions and real work to combat the Ecological Emergency start now.”
Cllr Matt Noble, Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Regeneration and Renters, said:
“The Climate Emergency has enabled us to act decisively in Westminster. In the first year of the Labour administration, we reduced year-on-year emissions by 17.5%, after a year of almost no improvement under the Tories. This declaration will enable similar action to combat the Ecological Emergency. We are also pleased with how successful the Citizens’ Climate Assembly was and are happy to formally acknowledge the recommendations. Tonight’s Ecological Emergency declaration begins this process, as the first step in addressing one of the Assembly’s most well supported recommendations: for the council to improve its approach to biodiversity in the City.”
The motion commits to the Council to:
- Declare an ecological emergency, which recognises the global ecological emergency and the local impact this has on the communities and businesses we serve, expanding upon the climate emergency declared in 2019;
- Pledge to act during the first year of the Motion being accepted, to secure future measurable biodiversity net gain for Westminster, building on recent achievements such as the ‘Greening Westminster’ fund, the ‘No Mow May’ initiative, local projects which support communities to take action to improve biodiversity, the ban on the use of Glyphosate, the Wild Gardens competition and other initiatives;
- Publish a strategy, within the first year of the Motion being accepted, outlining our approach to improving biodiversity within Westminster, which will formally bring together and build upon work happening across the council to support biodiversity net gain;
- Undertake and publish a Green Infrastructure Audit, to assess the current condition and quality of green spaces in Westminster, including our 33 SINC locations in the City;
- Proactively look for opportunities to work in partnership with local groups and stakeholders, to ensure we are all working together to address the ecological emergency;
- Pledge to develop plans for further action in the second year of the Motion being accepted and beyond, based on a full assessment of the scientific evidence on how best to achieve this goal;
- Declare its full support for the Climate and Ecology Bill, and to write to all MPs with constituencies that contain Westminster City Council wards, to encourage them to also support the Climate and Ecology Bill.