A BOROUGH which saw hundreds of students walk out of classes to protest about global warning needs to declare a “climate emergency” to demonstrate its commitment to tackling the issue, councillors will be told.

New Labour councillor Sam Howarth said he would introduce a notice of motion at a full meeting of Darlington Borough Council later this week, saying it was clear the authority needed to “prepare our town for the profound effects that are coming towards us at a rate of knots”.

Cllr Howarth’s proposal comes two months after Young Friends of the Earth Darlington members and students from Darlington’s Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College took over Stanhope Park to highlight their concerns over climate change.

If councillors approve the motion, the authority would sign up to a carbon reduction target of no more than 1.5’C global temperature increase and work with nurseries, schools and colleges to include age appropriate learning about climate change.

The motion would also lead to work to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030, call on central government to provide extra funding and powers and the creation of an action plan.

Cllr Howarth said it was important that the authority was seen to be setting a good example.

He said: “While this is an issue we should all be taking seriously, these proposals are not about being prescriptive, we want to bring people with us.

“We are seeing the evidence with the more extreme weather, so this needs to be central to everything that we do. If the council takes decisions where climate change is considered, we can make a difference, taking a lead both as a council and regionally.”

While councillor Howarth said he was optimistic the motion would receive cross-party support, Green party councillor Matthew Snedker has seconded the proposal.

Cllr Snedker said: “More and more people across our borough are taking steps to tackle climate change, from reducing the number of flights they take to cutting down on meat consumption, and I hope we as a council are inspired by this commitment.

“However, individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change its laws, taxation and infrastructure to make low carbon living easier and the new norm.”