COLCHESTER Council has declared a climate emergency after a unanimous vote by members.

All councillors backed a motion, proposed by council leader Mark Cory and Lorcan Whitehead, which aims to spur authority into urgent action to reduce the borough’s carbon footprint.

The council will ask its new conservation and environmental sustainability task and finish group to kick off concrete action on climate change, including undertaking an environmental audit and setting out a commitment to go carbon neutral by 2030.

An action plan will be presented to full council within six months including details of any investment implications of the proposals.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Colchester held a “die-in” protest outside the town hall steps before the meeting.

Jo Wheatley, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the group, warned the world was “sleep walking into oblivion”.

She said: “Extinction Rebellion wants governments at every level to acknowledge this crisis and respond with urgency, working cross-party and together with citizens in a Second World War style mobilisation.

“This is our last chance of mitigating the worst impacts of this crisis. Scientists say this can be done. The solutions are available to us.

“There is precious little time left, some say just months, in which to announce, plan and begin the radical changes needed.”

David King, the council’s resources boss, promised the task and finish group would be given what they needed to make radical proposals.

He said: “We will have to work in partnership and we will have to change our budgets and discuss what we might have to drop.”

Essex County Council highways boss and Colchester councillor Kevin Bentley said County Hall would support the borough council.

He said: “I pledge to give my full support and officer time from Essex County Council because I believe we can do something very special in Colchester.”

Mark Goacher, Colchester’s first Green Party councillor, said there were 12 years left to make concrete changes to CO2 levels.

“People say this is worse in China and the rest of the world but if everybody takes that view nobody would do anything,” he said.

“It will be like a war and we will need a war time effort. People will need to back controversial policies because that is the only way things will change.”

Mr Cory thanked Mr Whitehead and campaigners like Victoria Weaver for helping draw up the motion.

He said: “This is to save us and save humanity. It is really important it is our cause so it start with us, that is why the action plan is there.

“We are making the commitment and this is the first step on a long journey. We do not have much time so let’s get on with it.”