Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) joined dozens of others across the UK and declared a climate emergency on Tuesday (July 23).

A spokesperson for EEBC said the decision had been "cross-party" and was taken during a full council meeting Tuesday.

EEBC now join most other councils in the area, including Kingston, Elmbridge and Mole Valley, plus UK central government, to have declared a climate emergency.

They did so in full acknowledgement of the severity of the climate crisis, also known as global warming.

The crisis is being caused largely by humans burning fossil fuels and using other carbon-emitting energy sources.

Once released, the carbon becomes trapped in the Earth's atmosphere, heating it up and ultimately destabilising the finely poised conditions found on the planet that support life — a process known as the "Greenhouse Effect."

In a statement released by EEBC, a spokesperson said that councillors would follow the emergency declaration by drawing up an action plan over the next six months to be ratified within that time and then reviewed every year.

"Councillors agreed to establish an Epsom and Ewell Borough Council climate change action plan, with targets for the council to cut its environmental impact and steps to become carbon neutral.

"The action plan will be ratified within six months and reviewed annually," the spokesperson said.

Unlike other councils in the area to have declared a climate emergency, EEBC did not set a target date for going carbon neutral i.e. for reducing their carbon emissions to net zero.

Your Local Guardian: Extinction Rebellion protesters demanding swifter action to address the climate crisis block a bridge in London. Image: DAVID HOLTExtinction Rebellion protesters demanding swifter action to address the climate crisis block a bridge in London. Image: DAVID HOLT

An EEBC spokesperson told the Comet that a date would be agreed on once the action plan was ratified in six months' time.

Commenting on the declaration, former Mayor and Chair of the Environment and Safe Communities committee, Councillor Neil Dallen, described the declaration as "hugely significant."

"This is a hugely significant moment and is probably the most important issue that this council has ever debated; I am pleased that there is cross-party agreement on this very important issue.

"This will be an opportunity to bring together all the positive work that the council is already doing in this area, as well as initiate new policies and ideas that can make an even bigger contribution to protecting the environment and the climate.

"The target to become carbon neutral will not be easy but I know that there is the resolve to achieve this," Cllr Dallen said.

He added encouragement to the community in the borough to contribute to the council's plans to reduce emissions in any way they could.

"This isn't something the council can deliver on our own.

"We will be engaging with the wider community, tapping into the knowledge and passion that already exists, working with and learning from our residents, businesses and others to reduce CO2 emissions across the borough in order to meet our targets," Cllr Dallen said.

Several key points of the climate emergency declaration from EEBC are reproduced below:

"Epsom and Ewell Council recognises the serious and accelerating changes to the world caused by climate change, as well as the importance of responding to these concerns.

"This Council also acknowledges:

  • That bold climate action can deliver local social and economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and sustainable livelihood opportunities, as well as improved wellbeing
  • That individuals cannot be expected to make sufficient carbon emissions reductions on their own and that society needs to change its laws, taxation and infrastructure to make low carbon living easier and enable behavioural change..."

"EEBC has already started a journey when it comes to addressing the issue of climate breakdown through: carrying out its Green Infrastructure Study (2013), active support of local biodiversity and land management policies which help to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change; introduction of Simply Weekly which has increased Borough recycling; supporting the successful bid for step-free access at Stoneleigh Station which it hopes will reduce car journeys and harmful CO2 emissions."