Coventry City Council Climate Change & Sustainability Team has published a document entitled “Coventry facing the challenge of climate change”. It can be downloaded in PDF format here. The introduction summarises the City’s attitude to climate change:
The Council has a major role to play in not only setting an example for others to follow but mobilising all that live and work in the city to embrace the challenges that climate change and delivering a sustainable future presents us. This is not seen as a threat but more as an opportunity. We have the opportunity to position ourselves as a leading city in a global market.
The fact that Coventry does not see climate change as a threat is demonstrated clearly by the fact that, unlike cities such as Cambridge which take the threat of climate change seriously, it has failed to produce a strategy to replace its previous one which expired in 2020. It has failed to declare a climate emergency. The closest it got was during a debate on 18 June 2019 in which Councillor J O’Boyle moved the motion that
“This Council confirms its commitment to addressing the isssue (sic) of climate change and recommends the course of action that we are currently undertaking to respond to the climate change emergency”
In other words, no new actions were proposed to cope with the emergency. It was just business as usual.
The new document largely echoes the message that Councillor O’Boyle sent to CovCAN climate reporter Elliot Parker in July 2020, which we published here.
Lack of Citizen Engagement
And how is the city “mobilising all that live and work in the city to embrace the challenges that climate change”?
The city’s plans are focussed on attracting inward investment and creating jobs, but it has no plans to engage with its citizens to do something about climate change. This is shown by the statement that
Addressing climate change needs to be done in partnership – with all stakeholders across the city.
And who are these “stakeholders”? Businesses and universities. The council seems unaware of innovations which engage with citizens such as the Warwick People’s Climate Change Inquiry. Or Solihull Council, which wants residents to help shape Action Plan for tackling Climate Change. Or Birmingham’s Climate Emergency Citizen survey and accompanying focus groups. You can download Birmingham’s report PDF here. And those are just examples from our neighbouring councils. There are many more examples across the country.
CovCAN was formed when leader of the council George Duggins refused the Coventry United Nations Association suggestion in 2019 to create a schools council at which students could meet to plan joint action on climate change. Nothing has changed.
Coventry is not facing the challenge of climate change; it is merely looking for opportunities.