Kingston Council will debate declaring a climate change emergency in a challenge to Council Leader Liz Green's previous rebuffing of the proposal.

The proposal was reportedly first aired by Lib Dem Councillor Hilary Gander, the council's portfolio holder for environment and sustainable transport, during a Surbiton neighbourhood committee meeting earlier this week (March 20).

On Friday (March 22), a spokesperson for Kingston Council (RBK) confirmed Cllr Gander's plans.

RBK said: "Cllr Hilary Gander, portfolio holder for environment and sustainable transport, will be taking the climate emergency motion to full council on 24 April..."

"It will not be debated there. Instead it will be debated at the Environment and Sustainable Transport (EAST) committee following Full Council."

The planned debate will challenge Council Leader Liz Green's assertion earlier this month that declaring a climate emergency was not something she supported.

In an interview with the Surrey Comet, Cllr Green said: "My problem with the climate change emergency is when does it end? Emergency in my mind implies that it is time limited...climate change is so big we (in RBK council) can't ever allow for it to finish.

"I consider it an urgent problem that needs tackling."

If Cllr Gander's motion passes, it will align Kingston Council with at least 27 other councils in the UK to have declared a climate emergency, including many city councils such as Manchester, Liverpool and Oxford, and numerous regional councils including Cornwall County Council and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.

UK councils declaring a climate emergency have often done so alongside revised carbon emissions targets that set more ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions in their respective areas.

For example, committing to carbon neutrality by 2030 is a key pledge many councils to have declared the emergency are now making.

The declaration of a climate emergency has been linked to a dramatic United Nations' report on climate change published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year.

The report outlined the potentially devastating effects that 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming this century would likely have on Earth's delicately balanced ecosystems and atmosphere, and warns that human beings have just 12 years to affect the outcome of runaway climate change.

Following news of the debate, the Surrey Comet spoke with Kingston and Surbiton MP (Lib Dems) and former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey about local government declaring a climate emergency and what the best course of action would be going forward.

Mr Davey said: "We need to take climate change hugely seriously. I normally use the word 'crisis'. There's a danger one gets lost in the words here but the reality is that climate change is a dramatic problem for our world.

"We need locally, nationally and globally, to make climate change a top priority because it is so urgent."

Regarding the emergency declaration, Mr Davey said that policies would ultimately determine how local government faced up to the climate change crisis.

"Words are one thing but actions are the most important. Council's have got to work hard on energy efficiency...with the new homes programme on the Cambridge Road estate, sustainability is really a much bigger aspect than it was under the last council...and I know that the council are taking on air pollution which is really important.

"It's important that we make clear to people that climate change is a crisis, we have to tackle it, we have to act far more quickly than some people think...Local authorities have an important role to play," Mr Davey said.

News of the coming debate was celebrated by Kingston Green Party, who have lobbied for the declaration. 

Green Party Councillor Sharron Sumner said: "This is fantastic news...I was particularly moved by the climate strike protest by thousands of our young people. They are’s time for the older generations to take climate change seriously."