Birmingham City Council declares a climate emergency

At area meeting at Sutton Coldfield on 18 May Central England Quakers discerned that they should join with other faith groups in supporting the motion that Birmingham City Council declares a climate emergency. On the areas meeting’s behalf, Stella Roberts then signed the letter being sent to council leaders by Footsteps – Faiths for a Low Carbon Future.

Subsequently, the letter was signed by John Beard, Birmingham Faith Leaders, Chair. Forty community faith leaders, from across Birmingham also put their names to the letter. It was presented to Councillor Waseem Zaffar by Tarang Shelat, Footsteps steering group member and President of Hindu Council of Birmingham.

Photo: Jas Sansi

Tarang Shelat said ‘the faith communities completely support the City Council declaring a climate emergency and looked forward to working with the Council to achieve the changes needed’. Wassem Zaffar responded by saying ‘the involvement of the faith communities is crucial’ and committed to a faith community representative joining the climate emergency task force being set up.

On Tuesday 11 June the cross party climate emergency motion was debated and passed unanimously. The public gallery was filled with young people and folk from the campaigning groups who had worked hard over the past months to reach this point. The debate was non-partisan with Councillors speaking about the importance of the motion and thanking the young people and campaigning groups for helping the Council reach this watershed moment. The Leader of the Council asked the young people and campaign groups to keep up their pressure as Birmingham, a resourceful city, needed to ‘invent its way’ into a low carbon future. All were agreed that passing the motion was the easy bit and that the real challenge lay in turning the words into action.

In Chris Martin’s view, passing the motion presents an opportunity for Quakers to work with the other faith groups in tackling climate change in Birmingham. The motion recognises the social justice, inequality, natural environment and health issues are all involved.

The Low Carbon Commitment forum would be pleased to be asked to suggest how the area meeting can contribute in Birmingham and to encourage other local authorities in the West Midlands to also declare climate emergencies.