CLIMATE change activists have applauded South Lakeland District Council after it unanimously agreed to recognise global warming as an “emergency”.

Campaigners from Ambleside Action for the Future attended a full meeting of the council on Tuesday.

Councillors on all sides of the chamber supported a new climate change policy and climate change motion - sparking a rousing reception from the public gallery.

Campaigner Gillian Kelly told councillors that scientists expected 2019 to be the hottest yet with CO2 emissions forecast to be the highest on record.

She said it was no longer about climate change but climate catastrophe.

“I have had to adapt my vocabulary because climate change is accelerating so fast, much faster than computer models ever said it would,” said Ms Kelly, of Loughrigg near Ambleside.

“If we go beyond a rise of 2C we lose any chance of controlling the heating-up of the planet and all our natural systems will break down and civil society,” said Ms Kelly.

She said experts predicted the world had less than 12 years left to “turn things around”. “Our children and their children will face extinction if we don’t act,” she said.

Cllr Dyan Jones, the Liberal Democrat cabinet member for the environment, said the council had an important role to play as a “leaders and enablers” in addressing climate change and harmful C02 emissions.

“We need to think about what emergency means in real terms. It means addressing the problem quickly. This is a growing problem and if we don’t do something soon, then it will take longer for us to recover,” said Cllr Jones, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Windermere.

Council leader Giles Archibald said the planet faced catastrophe.

“The science now is set and there is no debate about it. Unless we do something quickly, we are heading for disaster,” said Cllr Archibald.

He said by the end of the century, The Maldives would be “submerged,” Bangladesh would be “inundated,” and people from Miami forced to move.

“Here in Cumbria the shoreline is threatened, some species will become extinct, our weather will become more violent and flooding will become more frequent and food prices will rise,” said Cllr Archibald,  the Liberal Democrat councillor for Kendal Town.

Cllr Roger Bingham, the Conservative member for Burton and Crooklands, supported the motion. He said: “This time last year we thought the climate was getting colder because of the Beast from the East. This year we now think it’s getting a lot hotter. One year there is not enough grit for the roads, another year there isn’t enough sandbags for the floods or the grass is withering in the heat.”

Cllr Ben Berry said it was rare for the chamber to agree on anything but it was united in believing that the climate was changing.

“My generation might be the first to leave the world in a better place than it found it,” said the leader of the Conservative opposition.