A pair of pirouetting polar bears demonstrated both their dexterity on ice and their concerns about climate change in Leeds last Wednesday.
Representing Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) Leeds, the two Arctic beasts donned skates and took to the temporary ice rink outside Leeds Civic Hall; between them carrying a large heart shaped Valentine card asking the people of Leeds to “Melt my heart, not my home”.
“We are asking for three things,” said SCC Leeds chairman Matt Carmichael (aka Sunny the polar bear). “Set a target of 80% reduction in carbon emissions, set annual targets to be achieved, and include cuts on aviation and shipping emissions.”
Later in the week, SCC Leeds presented Environment Secretary Hilary Benn with a signed petition, asking for the three changes to be included in the Climate Change Bill. The minister spent an hour talking with the campaigners and mentioned his plans to ask the newly formed Climate Change Committee to review the 60% target as one of their first tasks.
Leeds City Council recently published a report supporting SCC’s demands. Utilising data collated by the Leeds meteorological station, the report warned that temperature rises across the county over the past two decades were resulting in less snow and more intense rainfall, which had led to flash floods.
“Climate change will fundamentally affect how we live in Leeds,” said Councillor Steve Smith - the council’s executive board member with responsibility for sustainability.
“Our way of life relies on a temperate climate and climate change will alter this, threatening the health of our citizens, damaging our natural environment and disrupting the supply change that our economy relies upon. We have to take action now and reduce greenhouse gas emissions n the most cost effective way.” Added Cllr Smith.