A - Climate Emergency
Proposer: Mr Whybrow - Seconder: Mr Bird
While Kent County Council has shown leadership when it comes to carbon reduction and addressing climate breakdown, there needs to be greater urgency, more focus, ambitious performance targets and reporting.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C described the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5°C rise. It concluded that limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and local authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities.
Prime exposures to climate change for Kent’s residents include the effects of more severe weather events and coastal flooding, and the rapid loss of biodiversity, which is occurring at “a rate seen only during mass extinctions” according to the World Wide Fund for Nature1.
Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure (including electric vehicle charging) etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm2.
Bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities, as well as improved well-being for people worldwide. The Government and the Committee on Climate Change believe the shift to a very low carbon energy future represents the best course for the country’s economic development while also lowering the risk of fuel poverty and reducing air pollution.
“In terms of achievements to date, the significant reduction in carbon emissions from the roll-out of LED streetlights across the county was an excellent step forward by KCC and there is also important work within the Kent Environment Strategy and other initiatives such as the Active Travel Strategy and emerging Energy and Low Emissions Strategy.
Building on this:
1. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called for government leadership to make the changes necessary to reduce carbon emissions. According to the WWF Living Planet Report 2018, “Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions”. The losses in vertebrate species - mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles - averaged 60% between 1970 and 2014.
2 To reduce the chance of runaway global warming and limit the effects of climate breakdown, it is imperative that we as a species reduce our CO2eq (carbon equivalent) emissions from the current 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible - Fossil CO2 & GHG emissions of all world countries, 2017: http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2andGHG1970-2016&dst=GHGpc
B – Council tax exemptions for young care leavers
Proposer: Ida Linfield Seconder: Mrs Dean
Kent County Council currently provides a package of support to care leavers up to the age of 25 through the Care Leavers 18+ service which includes a package of financial assistance and support. However, those care leavers who are living independently find themselves handing back a portion of their income through their council tax contributions. A 2015 report by the Children’s Society entitled, ‘The Wolf at the Door - how council tax debt collection is harming children,’ identified that care leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt.
From April 2019, young people leaving the care system in Wales were made exempt from paying Council tax up to the age of 25. This follows the lead of Scotland which implemented a similar policy one year earlier. In England, several local authorities including Manchester City Council, Southwark Council and Nottingham County Council have already put in place exemptions for young care leavers.
“The council notes the disadvantage that care leavers have when transitioning into adult life and therefore resolves to engage with each of Kent’s twelve district councils and ask for their relevant committees to consider and agree to provide a 100% council tax discount to care leavers who meet the following criteria: