ST HELENS Council has declared a climate emergency – despite opposition from Green Party councillors who said the actions did not go far enough.

At full council on Wednesday night motions were tabled by Labour and Green councillors calling for various actions around tackling climate change.

The big difference between the two motions was the proposed timescales to make the borough zero-carbon.

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Labour’s Mancyia Uddin urged the council to commit to reaching a zero-carbon target by 2040, bringing St Helens in line with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which declared a climate emergency earlier this year.

Cllr Uddin, elected member for Windle, said: “We need to think about the issues and the way we operate as a society.

“It isn’t going to be easy as climate change challenges are very existent in the way we live our lives.

“Addressing the issues requires a big shift in our thinking and as difficult as it may be, it needs to be done.”

Cllr Uddin said the next few years will be “crucial” in tackling climate change.

“This really is the last chance we have to steer the world into a better and safer direction so that future generations have a chance to enjoy the world as we have,” she said.

“There are some philosophers who believe humans are inherently selfish, ego-centric and greedy.

“While this may be true of some people, I don’t believe it is true of the majority.

“So please prove them wrong and please, don’t let me live in a world where one day I will have to tell my children that our ancestral homeland ceases to exist because it’s submerged by the ocean as a result of our failures.”

St Helens Star:

Cllr Mancyia Uddin, Labour councillor for Windle

Green councillor David O’Keefe accused Labour of using the motion to try and “greenwash its reputation”.

He said the 2040 deadline will allow the party to implement the St Helens Local Plan, which is due to be assessed by a government planning inspector.

Cllr O’Keefe, elected member for Bold, said: “The 2040 deadline allows this Labour group to carry out its destructive Local Plan and then allows them five years to mitigate the damage.

“This is an outrageously cynical attempt to greenwash the Labour group’s reputation.”

Cllr O’Keefe said the motion commits the council to “very little” in response to the climate emergency, before calling on Labour to withdraw the Local Plan.

He added: “This council has to decide if it wants our children and grandchildren to have a safe planet or a zero-hour contract at a warehouse built upon green belt land.

“You can’t have both.”

St Helens Star:

Cllr David O'Keefe, Green councillor for Bold

Rainford Tory councillor Rob Reynolds said he did not understand why the council was declaring a climate emergency when Labour is “committed to building houses and warehouses on the green belt”.

Cllr Reynolds added that it was “embarrassing” that the council was debating two motions on climate change on the same night.

“Labour is so full of hot air it should build a wind turbine,” he said.

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Despite the criticism, the Tories supported the motion, which also had support from the Liberal Democrats and the two independents on the council.

Cllr O’Keefe and fellow Green David van der Burg, did not support the Labour motion.

A separate motion submitted by Cllr O’Keefe called on the council to pledge to make St Helens zero-carbon by 2030.

The motion had earlier drawn criticism from Labour’s Seve Gomez-Aspron, who accused it of being “cobbled together from Google.”

When presenting the motion, Cllr O’Keefe said he did use Google and copied and pasted some elements.

Cllr O’Keefe’s motion was defeated following a vote, despite support from Conservative, Liberal Democrats and the independents.