Councils across the UK are spending millions and employing hundreds of ‘low carbon’ officers to fight global warming – which now appears not to pose an imminent threat – at the same time as making sweeping cuts to children’s services, the arts and the elderly.
The councils have increased their spending on salaries of climate change staff by 34 per cent since the 2008 crash, almost three times the rate of inflation, while grants from central government were slashed by 12 per cent.
- Green salaries totalled £8.7 million in 2011 to 2012 at 65 councils, representing 17 million people – about one third of all councils. This sum does NOT include the cost of publicity materials urging people to cut their carbon footprints.
- Spending on green salaries rose by 137 per cent in Stoke. In 2010, the council spent £137,000 on solar panels for its civic centre roof. It is now set to close it and build a new centre for more than £50m.
- The highest-spending councils face deep cuts to core provisions. In Glasgow, where the green jobs spend of £390,000 is up 43 per cent on 2008 to 2009, the council is to cut £54 million from schools, social services and help for the disabled. In Birmingham, green salaries of £338,000 have risen 62 per cent, but £102 million is to be axed and 1,000 jobs lost.
- In Bradford (where green salaries are up from zero to £289,000), the council has issued a 25-page booklet claiming locals face an influx of foreign migrants displaced by sea level rises and drought.
- Not all councils are burning money on climate change. In 17 areas, green salaries have been reduced. The biggest cut was in Colchester which will now do without any climate change officers, having spent £23,000 in 2008 to 2009.
- The hiring binge was sparked by the 2008 Climate Change Act. It demands a cut in CO2 emissions in the UK by 80 per cent by 2050. It was followed by the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, putting the onus on councils.