CLIMATE change was at the forefront of an impassioned meeting of city councillors - with a six-year-old opening the debate.

Carlisle City councillors from all parties joined in a debate about how best to move forward in terms of climate change.

Stood outside Carlisle’s Civic Centre ahead of the meeting were dozens of protestors calling on the city to make positive strides in terms of climate change.

Among them was six-year-old Emily Graham, of Brampton Primary School, who after standing outside in protest then spoke up in the Civic Centre council chamber and said: “I am six years old.

“I am a school councillor at Brampton Primary School and I want to be a Carlisle City Councillor.

“I want to be a councillor like you because then I could make the most important decision ever. The decision that Carlisle will do its bit to stop climate change.

“I feel like politicians are stealing my future from me by doing nothing. We have 12 years left to stop making greenhouse gases if we want to stop climate change.”

She continued: “If you don’t act now, in 12 years time, when I turn 18, when I am old enough to be a councillor, it will be too late. I will not get my chance to change things. My future depends on the decisions you make in this room. Please give me a chance to change the world too.

“My question is ‘what are you going to do about climate change to make sure it is not too late when I am old enough to sit where you are sitting?’”

A debate followed, with councillors discussing a motion by council leader Colin Glover. It committed to:

  • Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ that requires urgent action.
  • Make the Council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2030.
  • Ensure that all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to zero carbon by 2030.
  • Support and work with all other relevant agencies towards making the Carlisle district Zero Carbon within the same timescale.
  • Achieve 100 per cent clean energy across Carlisle City Council’s full range of functions by 2030.
  • Convene a citizens assembly in 2019 to oversee and feed into the development of related action plans and budgets.

Mr Glover said: “We must work together to do more and do it faster.

“Storms like Storm Desmond - according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - are 10 times more likely due to climate change.

“We must work with residents and businesses. This is just the start of a new focus for this city, but it is only the start. There is much to do and time is running out.”

Concerns were raised by councillors from all sides, such as Tory councillor for Dalston, Nigel Christian. He claimed that the focus of the motion was wrong and that the growth of the city would lead to more emissions, more roads and so on. Conservative for Belah Gareth Ellis raised concerns about the detail involved in the motion as well as a lack of costing.

Cllr Glover said that costing would come at a later stage and that more people does not necessarily lead to more pollution.

The motion was carried by 29 votes, with 22 councillors abstaining.