Councils can play their part in climate change by adopting sensible earth friendly policies – according to those lobbying Dorset Council.

Caz Dennett, on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, told councillors that they should be “taking actions and commitments that demonstrate environmental-based decision.”

She suggested that this could include investing and supporting public transport, including re-instating bus services; taking action on air pollution especially in places such as Boot Hill and Rodwell Road in Weymouth where legal limits of pollution were frequently exceeded.

She said that they should also consider renewable energy schemes – claiming that the decision to refuse the Navitus Bay Offshore Wind Park several years ago did nothing to help reduce harmful emissions.

West Dorset Friends of the Earth spokesman, Scott Morrison, also questioned councillors at the inaugural meeting last week and asked them to back the climate emergency resolution.

“A declaration is a statement of intent: what will our community, our county, look like in 10 years time, what will it look like in 50 years time. The declaration is easier to make than to convert into policies that will sustain us, but first we need that intent.

“Ten years ago councils were busy enshrining sustainability into their frameworks. If only we had felt the urgency then that we now share.

"Our responses were not bold enough, we behaved as if we could solve climate change with slight of hand accountancy; that we could still squeeze the last drops of fossil fuels from our land while solving this.

But as someone said a century and a half ago: 'The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present'. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. ..

“We don’t have the luxury any longer to wrap ourselves up in labels of left or right; we need to shed our self-constraints and act to give Greta Thunberg and her generation a future. It is not good enough for our legacy to them to be just an apology.”

As reported, Dorset Council declared a climate emergency following a morning of protests from campaigners before its first meeting last week.

The vote means Dorset joins Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset in having recognised the threat posed by climate change.

Cllr Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “We have an opportunity and an obligation to demonstrate leadership - thinking globally about the implications of climate change and acting locally to help address it in our communities."