Conservatives Councillors Vote down Youth Group on Climate Change
Liberal Democrats called on Rushcliffe Borough Council to establish a Youth Council for Action on Climate Change with representatives drawn from each age group from each of the 8 Secondary Schools. All parties supported this proposal except the Conservative majority who voted it in down.
Presenting the motion, Cllr Rod Jones said:
"Young People know, perhaps more starkly than we do, that the world as they know it is coming to an end and it is up to us all, how it ends and what comes after. After we are gone, young people will inherit more extreme weather, more decimated wildlife and more people fleeing arid regions of the world for a life in Europe. More young people than adults, are aware, that as consumers we act as locusts on the resources of the earth."
"Harnessing the enthusiasm, convictions and investment in the future of young people is of special importance. Important for their future. Important, because young people can add to the awareness of our communities if given a platform to do so."
"A focus on the single issue on carbon reduction and the associated care for the environment is the key topic for our young people."
The motion was seconded by Liberal Democrat Councillor, Lizze Howitt, and supported by all opposition groups, who emphasised the opportunity to focus on Climate Change and the high degree of engagement that such a focus was likely to bring.
Speaking in her first council meeting, recently elected Liberal Democrat Councillor for Musters ward, Vicky Price, quoted from a recent paper in Nature, which
"Asked 10,000 young people in 10 countries how they felt about climate change and government responses to it. The results, found that most respondents were concerned about climate change, with nearly 60% saying they felt 'very worried' or 'extremely worried'. Many associated negative emotions with climate change - the most commonly chosen were 'sad', 'afraid', 'anxious', 'angry' and 'powerless'. Overall, 45% of participants said their feelings about climate change impacted their daily lives.
"This is an issue that impacts our young people deeply. They want to see action. A forum specifically targeting action on Climate Change will give them mechanism to influence and enact change."
In response, Conservative leader of the council criticised the motion as being too narrow as it 'just' focused on climate change.
We maintain that there is nothing niche or 'narrow' about Climate Change. This motion presented an opportunity for Rushcliffe Borough Council to engage directly with young people on an issue that permeates every area of their lives and is a well-documented source of concern and anxiety. For all conservative councillors to oppose this represents a failure to understand the urgency of the Climate Crisis and the concerns and priorities of young people.