THIS week, I will propose a climate emergency motion at Somerset West and Taunton Shadow Council.

There will be a similar motion debated at Somerset County Council.

Both motions have cross-party support and, if passed, could help to make a difference.

Scientists have been warning we are leaving it too late to tackle global warming. Last year, the warnings became even starker.

We need to stop burning fossil fuels and to reduce our carbon emissions. The sooner the better.

If we continue to delay, we risk passing irreversible tipping points and feedback systems will increase global warming even further.

One example is melting sea-ice turning to darker sea-water, so absorbing more of the sun’s heat instead of reflecting it back.

As climate change increases, we will suffer from more extreme weather, flooding, drought, heat waves and forest fires; as well as more ill-health; greater loss of species and habitats; and reduced yields from agriculture and fisheries.

In time, we also risk creating a Hothouse Earth as naturally stored carbon is released from permafrost, forests and seas, which would lead to sea levels rising by 10-60 metres and parts of the Earth becoming uninhabitable.

Individuals cannot solve climate change by ourselves, but our choices do make a difference.

Councils can help by making low carbon living easier. We can enable more cycling, walking and use of shared and public transport. We can provide more electric car charging points. Through the planning system, we can adopt high energy efficiency standards for new buildings, and support programmes to retrofit existing homes and businesses. We can encourage more waste reduction and more renewable energy.

Councils will also need to plan for more flooding, coastal erosion and other impacts from our changing climate.

Already, average global temperatures have increased by 1C. Scientists and the United Nations say we need to do all we can to limit the increase to no more than 1.5C. Current projections will take us past this to 3C of global warming and more.

We need to do all we can to prevent this. Some good progress has been made, but we need to do much more.

Declaring a climate emergency, backed by action, is a start.

Taunton Deane Borough Councillor (Green Party) - Wiveliscombe and West Deane Ward