Global warming is hot topic for councillors

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Business Editor

A SENIOR councillor has pledged to organise screenings of Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, for every Darlington borough councillor.

Veronica Copeland, cabinet member for sustainable environment and climate change, made the promise after a screening organised by Darlington Friends of the Earth last week, which was attended by more than 60 people.

But Liberal Democat councillor Martin Swainston, who was also at the event, has criticised the Labour-led council for not doing enough to prevent climate change and said they should be setting an example.

He told The Northern Echo last night: "Darlington Borough Council is a major employer and a major emitter of green house gases in the borough.

"People need to look towards the town hall to see the very best is being done."

Councillor Swainston said the council was lagging behind other authorities on recycling targets and was wasteful of electricity and other resources at the buildings it owned.

He said the issue was so important that the council should see it at as non-political and use ideas from all parties to improve the town's energy efficiency.

He suggested the cabinet member for the environment should be drawn from an opposition party.

"All the parties ned to work together. There needs to be a resolution from Labour that they don't have all the ideas."

But a council spokeswoman said: "We are running an internal campaign called The Climate Change Challenge, encouraging staff to switch computers, lights and other appliances off when they are not in use.

"The aim is to reduce our bills by £250,000 in 2008. One of the new initiatives is the introduction of technology, which will automatically switch all computers off after 8pm, to avoid wasting electricity.

"Our recycling targets are set nationally and we are working hard to ensure we not only meet these but exceed them, with the help of residents."

Darlington Friends of the Earth coordinator, Kendra Ullyart, said the consensus of the meeting had been that on such an important issue all politicians should all pull together to pursue policies to halt climate change.

She added: "In addition to our national campaign for a strong climate change law to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, we will also be concentrating on local issues, and campaigning to get robust recycling policies in place throughout the area."

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