Reading council has joined global calls for an end to new coal, oil and gas extraction for electricity generation. 

A coalition of environmental groups have been lobbying national and local governments to sign up to the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty.

The treaty was initiated by island nations which are put at risk by rising sea levels.

Global signatories include the island nations of  Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, Colombia in South America and the European Parliament.

Reading Borough Council is set to unite its voice to the treaty alongside these global bodies and other councils in England.

The news comes as the council's Labour administration was asked whether it would sign up to the treaty by councillor Rob White, the leader of the opposition.

At a recent meeting, cllr White (Green, Park) said: "In light of the council's Climate Emergency declaration in February 2019 and the current Reading
Climate Emergency Strategy, Global Justice Now, Friends of the Earth and many other national groups are lobbying councils for their endorsement of the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty.

"It has been endorsed by UK councils including those of Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Hastings, and Lambeth."

The content of the treaty involves calling for the prevention of new coal, oil and gas development, an 'equitable phase out' of fossil fuel extraction, and a 'just transition' meaning no community, country, or worker is left behind.

Cllr White said: "Global Justice say that the support of local councils around the world is effective in persuading national governments to join the Treaty.

Is Reading Borough Council prepared to endorse this Treaty?

The question was answered by John Ennis, lead councillor for climate strategy and transport, who confirmed that the borough council will endorse the Treaty.

He said that the principles of the Treaty are in line with the council's own goals.

Explaining progress on tackling climate change the council has already made, cllr Ennis (Labour, Southcote) said: "Our efforts with partners have contributed to Reading’s carbon emissions being cut by 51 per cent since 2005, the 8th largest reduction out of 374 UK local authority areas.

"Our corporate emissions have also been cut by 74 per cent since 2008/09, and we were pleased last year to meet our target to reduce our own consumption of fossil fuels by 50 per cent two years ahead of schedule.

"We know there is much more to do but these achievements provide a solid foundation on which to build.

"Reading is also proud of its diversity and many of the communities who live in Reading have strong links with the regions and nations of the world which are even more exposed to the impacts of a changing climate than we are in the UK.

"For this and the other reasons given, the council is happy to express its solidarity with those who have pioneered the Treaty, and will be happy to endorse the Treaty."

The exchange took place at the council's policy committee meeting on April 22.