This website was created following a meeting with Coventry Councillors on 23 April 2019 at which we explained three requests that Coventry students had made at a meeting we organised in March. The earlier meeting was intended to allow students who were on strike for climate to talk to councillors. Around 40 students attended that event but unfortunately only one out of the 54 councillors was able to attend.
The meeting in April was attended by Councillor George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council, Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration and Councillor Patricia Hetherton Cabinet Member for City Services as well as two members of staff (see below).
Councillor Duggins agreed to take action on the student’s first request
They want all schools to establish Eco-Teams to promote carbon saving activities. The students have many ideas about what these teams could accomplish. Councillor Duggins agreeing to raise this idea with Kirston Nelson, Director of Education.
But he was unable or unwilling to take action on the other two requests
He felt unable to take action on the student’s second request, that the Council establish an Eco-Committee to bring together representatives from each Eco-Team in order to coordinate actions and exchange ideas. His reason was that climate change is already being dealt with by several of the Council’s existing Committees, by scrutiny in Cabinet and by a variety of other mechanisms. He said he could not set up a new Committee. However he said you are open to anything that works.
That is why the United Nations Association Coventry Branch has established Coventry Climate Action Network. It will stand outside the Council’s official structure. We hope that the Council will be show its support for this group. Note that another group with the same name was previously formed by the University of Warwick but has not recently been active except for updating a Facebook page.
Climate Emergency Declaration
The third of the student’s calls was for the Council to follow many others in the UK and around the world and declare a Climate Emergency, thereby raising the profile of the issue and lending authority to the students as they fight against stigmatisation and mockery by their peers.
However Councillor Duggins does not support such a declaration. We did not have time to discuss this at the meeting but, by coincidence on the same day as this meeting, there was a discussion of climate change in the House of Commons at which Barry Gardiner, Shadow Energy & Climate Change Minister, said:
“The Labour party, the Green party, the Lib Dems, the SNP and Plaid Cymru all agree that we need to declare a climate emergency. We would love it if the Conservatives joined us. Will they?”
The Hansard report of the debate can be found here:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-04-23/debates/2631CC62-463C-4852-ADB5-21DEE35DA4B9/ClimateChangePolicy and a video at https://unacov.uk/uk-climate-change-policy-statement/
As well as the councillors, two members of Coventry City Staff attended the meeting. Colin Knight, Director Transportation and Highways, and Project Manager Shamala Evans spoke about the exciting things the city is already doing about climate change. This was exactly this sort of information students need so they can help to promote these ideas within schools. Colin offered one of his officers, Richard Smith, to meet with the students and discuss topics like School Travel Plans.