Havering Council has declared a climate emergency.

Labour group leader Keith Darvill said councillors supporting the declaration would demonstrate publicly their recognition that the world is in the “last chance saloon”.

The declaration was approved by the majority of councillors at a meeting on March 22.

Councillors have now recognised that greenhouse gases from human activity have caused a “dramatic change in the climate” but the declaration’s wording does not pledge to take any specific action.

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Cllr Darvill, who proposed the climate emergency motion and also leads on climate agenda issues, said the council has a “big resilience” issue with increasingly frequent and severe flooding.

He added: “We can go out to the community and say every member in the council recognises the importance of the emergency.

“We can bring forward not only plans but communications with residents to reduce their carbon use and hopefully address this danger[…] we can only do that if we reduce our carbon use.”

Conservative councillor David Taylor said he agreed with the motion but argued that rushing into electric vehicles is an “environmental disaster” due to the amount of water needed to produce lithium for batteries.

While 42 councillors voted in favour, five members of the Conservative and Havering Residents Association groups abstained.

Romford Recorder: Cllr Keith Darvill, Labour group leader on Havering CouncilCllr Keith Darvill, Labour group leader on Havering Council (Image: LDRS)

It comes almost four years after a wave of protests across the world led the government and most London councils to declare a climate emergency.

Under the previous Conservative administration, Havering Council developed a climate change action plan, approved in 2021, which committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2040 – ten years later than most London councils.

Former Conservative council leader Damian White, who did not speak at the meeting, has been approached for comment.

A spokesperson for Havering’s branch of the Green Party said: “Thankfully, with the change of administration good sense is starting to prevail.

“Declaring a climate emergency is pretty easy when you have the numbers to vote for it but the hard part is putting the policies into action to deliver what is required to cut waste, cut emissions and transition to the long overdue ‘steady state’ of sustainable living.

“No mean feat, particularly when climate change deniers are still a sizeable minority. Thankfully enough influential people now accept that it is something we must get done now without delay.”

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Havering said they welcome the declaration, which they called a “significant step” in acknowledging the climate crisis and a sustainable future.

They added: “As concerned citizens, we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the council’s actions towards reducing carbon emissions, promoting renewable energy, protecting natural resources, and creating a greener and more sustainable community.

“We believe that this declaration will not only benefit our present and future generations but also set an example for Havering residents.

“We stand ready to support the council in any way possible and hope to see a robust and ambitious plan of action that tackles the climate emergency with urgency and determination.”