Greens bid to stop Edinburgh's Lord Provost flying to China

GREEN councillors tried to block plans for the Lord Provost to fly to China next month, arguing that he should be setting an example in the climate crisis.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 5:50 pm
Lord Provost Frank Ross will fly to Shenzhen as part of a trade mission from the Capital.
Lord Provost Frank Ross will fly to Shenzhen as part of a trade mission from the Capital.

But other parties backed the trip, part of an Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce trade mission to Shenzhen, a city of 12.5 million with which Edinburgh has signed an International Friendship Cities agreement earlier this year.

A report to the council's recently-renamed policy and sustainability committee said the trip would allow Lord Provost Frank Ross to meet the Mayor of Shenzhen and other government officials to develop links and opportunities under the agreement.

The costs of the visit, including travel and accommodation, are being met by the event organisers.

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Edinburgh signed a friendship agreement with Shenzhen earlier this year.

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He said: "We should be sending an environmentalist message to our partners. If we said the Lord Provost won't be taking this journey for environmental reasons that would be a good influence we could have on the world.

"Every air trip hurts the environment more and I don't see the necessity for this one."

And fellow Green councillor Melanie Main said: "There are plenty ways to communicate electronically with our partners on the other side of the world.

Shenzhen is a city of 12.5 million people in south-east China, close to Hong Kong.

"We have to start taking our climate emergency seriously. The Lord Provost represents the city and he should therefore be setting the highest standards and the highest examples for us and not flying across the world."

Acting council leader Cammy Day, who was chairing the meeting, said he took on board the points made. "We maybe need to consider in the future how many times we need to visit a country or city."

But he added this was a strong partnership which had produced tangible results for the capital city.

She said: "Civic leaders are taken very seriously in China and rather than Pyrrhic victories I think we can have more influence over time if we meet and respect them in the way they would expect to be met and respected.

"This is an incredibly important partnership for the city with a certain amount of influence in an economy we do need to be working in and influencing."

The committee approved the trip, November 11-16, by 15 votes to two.