A LOCAL authority’s climate change champion has warned of the need to press on with carbon-cutting action despite demands of coronavirus crisis, saying there will be no vaccine to cure climate change if temperatures are not brought down rapidly enough.

Councillor Gerald Lee, who has led a cross-party group on Darlington Borough Council to develop a climate change strategy and increase energy efficiency at the authority, told a meeting of the authority that communities in the borough needed to be made aware of the urgency of the situation.

The meeting had heard the Green Party group leader Councillor Matthew Snedker highlight Environment Agency figures that summer rainfall would fall by 60 per cent over the medium term, but winter rainfall would go up by 59 per cent, leading to significant increased risk of flooding of land, businesses and properties.

However, a report to the meeting stated the authority had already completed numerous actions to kick-start the carbon-cutting mission it approved last summer. These have included switching to a zero-carbon electricity tariff, installing LED street lighting and LED lighting in office buildings, adding nine electric vehicles to the council fleet.

The main principles of the council’s climate change strategy, which it hopes will inspire residents to act more environmentally-friendly, include cutting energy consumption, reducing demand for fossil fuel-based energy, contributing to a greener grid and carbon offsetting, such as planting trees.

Cllr Lee told the meeting a large amount of work would be needed to get to grips with what an extremely complicated subject. However, he called on councillors to raise the subject of climate change whenever possible.

He said: “We’ve got Covid-19 knocking on our doorsteps, and I know it is a horrible thing, but I would ask you to remember that in a year’s time we will have a vaccine and these horrible memories will hopefully reduce.

“If we do not get these temperatures down in the prescribed time we cannot turn the clock back nor can we bring up an injection or a vaccine to cure it. We must work together towards getting net zero carbon, preferably for 2030, but failing that for 2050.