HARDEN Village Council has become one of the first rural communities in Yorkshire to declare a climate emergency, and is appealing to others to join it in setting out their commitments for creating a more sustainable future.

It joins hundreds of county, district and town councils around Britain, and the UK Parliament, in making a declaration and is highlighting that rural communities too can play an important part in moving towards net zero carbon emissions, reducing pollution, enhancing the natural environment, and building local resilience.

The Village Council intends to work with local residents, businesses and community groups to support Harden becoming carbon neutral by 2030, delivering least harm and maximum benefit to the environment.

It will especially focus on improving walking and cycling in the village, protecting and enhancing green spaces and biodiversity and helping local people and business to reduce waste and be more sustainable.

In declaring a climate emergency the Village Council has committed to:

• Put the emergency at the forefront of discussions and decision-making, ensuring negative environmental impact is avoided, minimised or mitigated.

• Establish a set of actions and commitments for working with and supporting local residents, groups and businesses to be more sustainable, progress against which will be assessed regularly.

• Call on the Government and Bradford Council to provide the resources and powers so that our village can make its contribution to the UK’s carbon reduction targets and help avert the emergency.

The Council based its declaration on scientific evidence including:

• we are likely to have only a few years left to keep Earth under a 1.5 degree temperature rise; going above this level will be devastating, causing harm and suffering across the planet;

• we are currently on course to hit a 2.4-4.3 degree temperature rise by 2100;

• earlier this year the UK government committed to legally binding targets for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 , but many experts argue we need to act more swiftly.

The Village Council is working on the development of a Neighbourhood Plan and the climate agenda is central to emerging policies in Harden, following local consultations showing how much residents care about the environment. The plan will promote informed decisions on mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Cllr Gerwyn Bryan (pictured), chair of the council, said: “It has become clear that action is required locally as well as globally and we believe it is right for Harden to play its part. There is a lot we can do individually and together to make a contribution to tackling this emergency.

"In Harden, we will be looking at how we can make it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport, how we can reduce waste, and how we can protect and enhance green spaces, tree planting and biodiversity. But perhaps most importantly, we’ll be putting the climate emergency at the forefront of our thinking and decisions.

"We’re also keen to encourage more villages to take this on board, and to hear from others in our area, across the Bradford District and beyond. We need to work together and share ideas if we are going to turn our commitments into meaningful action.”

Cllr Jools Townsend, the councillor who tabled the declaration, said: “The climate emergency is the gravest threat we face, and time is running short for us to prevent a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

"However, this is very much a local issue too. Across Yorkshire, we are starting to feel the effects of a destabilised climate, and will do increasingly, although it is our children who will bear the brunt. But there is also hope, in working together at community level, to make the changes we need. I know through my work, that when people come together locally, we can make great things happen, to protect our environment and benefit local people’s health, wellbeing and prosperity.

“While there has been much focus on towns and cities reducing their climate impact, rural communities have a key part to play too. I’m proud to be part of a village that’s set out its commitment to do this, and hope more will join us.”