Success for Greens as climate and biodiversity emergency declared in Brighton and Hove

City Council becomes latest to commit to action on climate change and species extinction

Green Councillor Ollie Sykes and Extinction Rebellion campaigners
Copyright  Danny Fitzpatrick http://www.dfphotography.co.uk danny@dfphotography.co.uk


Brighton and Hove City Council has become the latest council to declare a state of climate emergency following a call from the Greens. 

Green plans for council action on climate change and protection of the natural environment were agreed by all parties at a meeting of Full Council yesterday (Thursday 13th December). The Green proposals call on the city council to go ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030. Greens also want to see the council put in place measures to boost the protection of species, habitats and ecosystems to avert worsening climate disaster.

Recent reports from the United Nations have revealed that there are just 12 years left to limit global warming and that a mass extinction of species is now underway.

Following the success of the Green proposals, the city council will now lobby the Government to invest more resources in climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and also on the protection of the natural environment.

The emergency declaration follows similar pledges secured by Greens on Bristol Council, London Assembly, Stroud Council and others.

Members of the Brighton branch of global climate movement ‘Extinction Rebellion’ gathered outside Hove Town Hall in support of the Green call for action. 

Greens and Extinction Rebellion campaigners outside Hove Town Hall. Copyright Danny Fitzpatrick http://www.dfphotography.co.uk

While welcoming the support received from all parties on the council, Greens are now urging all parties to commit to taking ‘urgent, strong and determined’ action when the proposals are reviewed at policy committees next year.


Councillor Sykes, who put forward the call to council, commented:

“There’s nothing more urgent for this and future generations than the fight to slow climate change and protect our natural environment. I’m so pleased that this Green proposal passed unanimously at Council yesterday. Now let’s get more local authorities on board and start acting on our promises.”


Councillor Greenbaum, who seconded the notice of motion, added:

“Global climate talks are stalling under the influence of climate deniers such as Trump. At home the Conservative Government is blocking the progress of renewable energy while simultaneously pushing through legislation to make fracking easier, and there is no real plan to protect our natural assets or improve air quality. Meanwhile, our climate is changing more rapidly than we feared, and the impacts are catastrophic as we have seen from the recent California wildfires. And humankind’s destruction of natural habitats has destroyed 83% of all mammals and half of plants.  

“The situation is dire and requires radical and immediate action, but with no leadership, hope or commitment coming from the global or national stage it is clear that the solutions will have be found at a local level – as we have seen in Bristol, Stroud, London and now Brighton – and grassroots movements such as Extinction Rebellion. We simply can’t sit back without trying to stop this disaster unfolding further.”

The Green Group proposals are available to read here: http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00008150/AI00070372/$Item5501GrnGrpClimateChange.docA.ps.pdf




Advertisements

Greens call on Council: Declare climate emergency and take action on environmental disaster


City Council urged to halt further CO2 emissions by 2030 and address species extinction as environmental crisis deepens


Green Councillors are calling for Brighton and Hove to become the latest council to declare a state of ‘climate emergency’ following a UN report that revealed there are just 12 years left to limit the damage of climate change.

In a set of proposals being put to a vote at a meeting of Full Council this week, Greens say that Brighton and Hove City Council must play its part in protecting the local environment and go ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030 to have any chance of withstanding climate disaster. 

Greens are also urging the Council to boost the protection of species, habitats and ecosystems, after a global report found that up to 46% of animal and plant species could be wiped out from the planet by 2050. 

As part of the proposals, Green Councillors also want to see the Government invest more resources in climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation and also on the protection of our natural environment.

Recognising the critical location of Brighton and Hove between the sea and the South Downs, Greens say more must be done to protect the city from the impact of the changing climate, building on the success of Bristol Greens who last month pushed Bristol Council to bring their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions target forward by 20 years. Similar motions have since been passed by Green Councillors in Stroud District, the Forest of Dean and the London Assembly.

Green Councillor Ollie Sykes, who will put forward the proposals on Thursday, commented:

“If one thing has pushed Brexit from the news agenda recently, it’s been the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. We’ve been collectively devastated by TV shows highlighting human impact on species and habitats.Destructive hurricanes and wildfires linked to global warming seem to have become commonplace. A recent UN report tells us we have only 12 years to act. Other cities have shown how positive change can be managed and we should do the same.”

Councillors from all parties will be asked to support the Brighton and Hove Greens ‘climate emergency’ proposals this Thursday, 13th December. Members of the Brighton branch of international movement ‘Extinction Rebellion,’ who hit the headlines for staging protests to highlight species extinction and climate breakdown, are expected to gather outside Hove Town Hall before the meeting to show their support for the Green proposals. 

You can find out more about the Extinction Rebellion event on  Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/315044969334759/

—-

Want to know more….?


IPCC report: A collective of worldwide UN scientists conducting research into the climate have warned that there are only 12 years within which global leaders can implement the changes necessary to prevent the impact of global temperature exceeding 1.5c. 
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report


-Green Group Notice of Motion wording:

This Council notes with concern the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on global climate change impacts and the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reports on global species and habitat loss. Council notes also that our coastal city on the edge of the South Downs is affected by these threats, which are projected to intensify.

Further to this, Council:

(1)        Declares its recognition of global climate and biodiversity emergencies;

(2)        Requests the Policy, Resources & Growth Committee to:

·       undertake a short review of BHCC governance policies and progress aimed at addressing locally these twin threats and to report on findings;

·       consider a target date of 2030 for whole city carbon neutrality;

·       consider how the Council can strengthen local protection and enhancement of species, habitats and ecosystems services under available powers;

Request the Chief Executive to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer stating the concern of the Council with respect to the above, the likely national impact on the economy and on the wellbeing of citizens, and requesting government funding be made available to implement swift appropriate actions in response.



‘Carbon Neutral’ – 
Carbon Neutral refers to taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero – then offsetting the equivalent amount of any remaining emissions; e.g, through phasing out fossil fuel emissions, boosting energy efficiency and moving to fully renewable energy. 
See:
‘What is carbon neutral?’
https://charterforcompassion.org/compassion-environment-reader/the-story-of-solutions/what-is-carbon-neutrality-and-how-we-can-achieve-it-by-2050

In places like Oslo, measures have been taken to ban diesel cars, undertake ‘carbon capture’ plants, selling electric vehicles or hybrid cars, and improving home energy efficiency.



IPBES report: The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services:
The IPBES report was compiled by research conducted across three years by 550 scientists from more than 100 countries, utilising thousands of scientific articles, government sources and indigenous and local knowledge.
The report found that: 
“By 2050, 38-46% of animal and plant species could be wiped out from the planet. Of particular concern are Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, which are more vulnerable to soil impoverishment.
“Within 30 years, the number of people living in arid regions could rise from 2.7 to 4 billion, increasing the risk of migration crises. Land degradation and climate change, leading to declining crop yields and social and economic instability, are likely to force 50-700 million people to migrate by the middle of the century.”

https://news.cnrs.fr/articles/biodiversity-state-of-emergency



Bristol Green Councillors
successfully proposed a notice of motion calling for the city to declare a state of climate emergency and bring forward carbon emissions targets by 20 years. https://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/greens-declare-a-climate-emergency-and-bring-bristols-co2-emissions-target-forwards-20-years

London Assembly: Full text of the London Assembly motion available at https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/assembly/call-on-mayor-to-declare-climate-emergency

Extinction Rebellion Brighton:  https://www.facebook.com/events/315044969334759/ 
Event reads: “WE NEED YOU! The green party have submitted a motion of “Declaration of Climate Emergency” councillors will be discussing this motion this Thursday!!! Lets show them that the motion has full support from us Brightonians and that we want to align with many other local authorities across the country!!”

Renewed push for a say on Brexit deal as 1,399 residents sign People’s Vote petition coming to Council

Popular Green Party petition will be heard by all parties and triggers Council debate

Thousands of Brighton and Hove residents have signed a petition calling for a ‘People’s Vote’ on any Brexit deal.

The petition, started by Green Party Councillor Pete West, states:

“The government and parliament were given a mandate to negotiate a Brexit deal for Britain. However, they have no right to impose a final deal. The people must have the final say on whether or not to accept the proposals on the table.

“We, the undersigned people of Brighton & Hove, call on the Government to allow the people the chance to have our say on the final terms of the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU, including the possibility that no deal may have been reached.”

The petition is still open and is available to sign:
https://action.greenparty.org.uk/bhgp-eu-petition

The request of the petition will now be heard formally at a meeting of Full Council on 18th October, after the number of signatories received reached 1,399 – exceeding the threshold required to trigger a debate in the council chamber.

Nationwide support for a People’s Vote is estimated to have grown steadily since the EU referendum. Polling shows that more than 100 constituencies which previously backed leaving the EU would now vote to remain. A YouGov poll of trade unions GMB, Unite and Unison also found that a majority of union members are in favour of a People’s Vote. Brighton and Hove City Council became the first in England to formally endorse a call for a ‘People’s Vote’ after a proposal from the Green Group of Councillors.

 

peoples vote

Green Councillors pushed Brighton and Hove City Council to endorse a People’s Vote back in December 2017


At the next Full Council meeting (October 18th), Councillors will also vote on Green proposals demanding a thorough investigation into ‘the impact that Brexit will have on Brighton and Hove and its council services.’ Green Councillors fear that the risks posed to the city and council services by leaving the European Union have to date not been adequately assessed. Recent reports have suggested that around 250 local projects could stand to lose EU funding after Brexit. 


Councillor Pete West commented:

“The reaction to this petition on the doorsteps of Brighton and Hove has been phenomenal. People are exasperated and demand a say on the Brexit deal. With less than six months to go until ‘exit date’, residents have no sense of what the future holds. They have been frozen out of the debate – and worse still, told bare-faced lies about issues as crucial as extra funding for our NHS. The Conservative Government and Labour Opposition are equally divided over what, if any, ‘plan’ will be in place and what it should say.

“Greens have been clear from the outset that a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final deal is needed – we have led the way. We will also join the thousands expected to march in support for a People’s Vote in London on 20th October. Putting the deal – or no deal – to the people is the only way to reconcile the divisions of opinion between Parliament and the nation and prepare us for whatever future we face together.”   


Councillor Ollie Sykes, Green Group Finance Lead, added:

“The gap between national politicians’ words and reality has never seemed greater than during this damaging Brexit paralysis. The logical, moral and democratic way out of this Conservative-created morass is to hold a People’s Vote. We were the first Council in the country to call for this almost a year ago and demands for a People’s Vote are now coming from all sides.

“Of course we still don’t know what’s going to happen and Greens are very concerned about the immediate and longer term impact of any form of Brexit on the country, and on our city. We think there’s more we could do to prepare the city and the council itself for the worst scenarios. Other coastal towns have seen local acceptance of the Euro currency and we think this idea could be assessed by businesses and also by our council to see if it makes financial sense.”

The ‘People’s Vote March for the Future,’ will take place on 20th October in central London. https://www.peoples-vote.uk/march

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty also tabled a question on the subject of Brexit to a meeting of Policy, Resources and Growth Committee, 11th October:

“[…] Will the Chair of the Committee urgently write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union asking them to share with the City Council the assessments their departments have written about how the city and the region’s economy will be affected by Brexit; what assurances their departments will give to residents that everything is being done by their departments and the government to mitigate risks to jobs and livelihoods; and that in the absence of such mitigation that they will aid and compensate city residents whose income is lost through Brexit.”

Chair of the Committee, Cllr Dan Yates, agreed to the request.

Greens to speak out for public services at weekend anti-cuts rally

Fight against cuts to NHS and other services ‘a matter of life and death’

Green Councillors will march in solidarity with communities defending public services at a public rally organised for this Saturday, October 13th.

Coordinated by Sussex Defend the NHS and the Brighton and Hove Trades Council, the ‘Matter of Life and Death’ march will highlight the devastating impact of cuts on public services, with a particular focus on the NHS. A rally starting at the Level at 11.30am will be followed by a public march to Regency Square.

Organisers have also asked attendees to consider wearing something black, as a symbol to commemorate the hundreds of people who are estimated to have died as a result of cuts to public services.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors will speak at the event, as will Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion.

Councillor Dick Page, Green Spokesperson for Health and Wellbeing, commented:

“With the Brexit shambles taking up the headlines, we Greens stand alongside all the communities protesting that if austerity is over, why in our city are health treatments being restricted, care support is harder to access, and with less & less GPs, more people are waiting longer for an appointment?

“All local leaders do is issue bland, complacent strategies & action plans. What we need is enough funding for people’s needs, and secure, publicly-provided services.”

Councillor Mac Cafferty, who will address the rally at Regency Square, added:

“Years of brutal cuts have pushed key services to breaking point. Under the guise of ‘savings’, and ‘integration’ our NHS is at risk of being dismantled and sold off to the highest bidder. A third of NHS contracts awarded since Hunt’s 2013 Health Act have gone to the private sector.

“Sadly, the impact of this attack on public services is all too clear. This year, health chiefs at the Royal Sussex County Hospital said staff shortages and high demand led to “the toughest winter” on record. The city now has just one GP to every 2,500 patients. 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year, combined with a 96% drop in applications from the EU as Brexit looms.

“This Saturday I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all of those marching to defend our public services. Whether it’s councils, hospitals or adult social care, so many of the services struggling to meet rising demand are being brought to their knees by a cuts and privatisation agenda. Scandalously, it is residents reliant on local services who will pay the price.”

Saturday’s march will leave from the Level at 12.30 after hearing from local speakers. A rally in Regency Square with further speakers will start at 1.30pm.

http://defendthenhssussex.weebly.com/

With just 12 years left to limit climate change, Council must oppose new fracking laws say Greens

Council can and must act now say Greens as climate scientists give 12 year ultimatum

The Green Group of Councillors have reaffirmed their call for an end to fracking and called for ‘immediate action’ on climate change following a damning report from the UN on global warming.

DRILL-articleLarge

Leading scientists have warned the worst effects of climate change could be felt as soon as 2030 if no action is taken to limit global warming

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was published this week, with 91 scientists warning that the planet will reach climate disaster as early as 2030 if no action is taken to curb increases in global warming. According to the report, a rise in global temperature will lead to extreme droughts, food shortages and increased poverty,  with the IPCC calling for ‘unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,’ to minimise climate disaster.

Green Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty commented:

“This report should serve as a painful wake up call. The effects of climate change are already being felt. However the IPCC has concluded that a rise of even half a degree above current global temperatures will herald a climate disaster as soon as 2030. Increases in global temperatures of half a degree could lead to millions exposed to severe drought and plunge us into a food shortage.

“Yet the IPCC have reminded us that we can reverse some of these changes if we take serious action now. That’s exactly why Greens will call for an unequivocal rejection of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ at the next meeting of Full Council. It’s never been clearer that our reliance on fossil fuels has to end. With unprecedented levels of change needed, we also repeat our concerns that limited actions by the Labour Council on air pollution and sustainable transport do not go far enough, and call for a serious commitment from this Council to play its full part in curbing global warming.”

 

 

More information:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the leading international body on climate change, and the source of scientific information and technical guidance on the subject to the United Nations. The IPCC published a report on Monday, 8th October, detailing the findings of climate scientists investigating levels of global warming and climate change. The Panel concluded that allowing the global temperature to exceed 1.5 degrees celsius would create a ‘climate disaster,’ causing severe impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, and concluded that the worst effects could be felt as soon as 2030 if activities exacerbating climate change continue at their current rate.

It is estimated that a rise in global temperatures to 2°c would lead to an increase in the severity of climate change. At 2°c, insects would be twice as likely to lose half of their habitat; 99% of corals would be lost and flooding would become more common and far-reaching. 

Greens will present a notice of motion on hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) to the next meeting of Full Council in Brighton and Hove on 18th October. #LetCommunitiesDecide

 

Councils mired by cuts cannot bear a Brexit double whammy

We have every right to be anxious about the impact of Brexit on our Council and its services, writes Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty following a speech on the People’s Vote

Peace sign Ppls Vote Phelim 16th Sept

Women 4 Europe and Brighton and Hove For EU organised a rally in support of a People’s Vote

Just this week further details of the Brexit mess have been unveiled:

As a Councillor here in Brighton and Hove I am especially concerned how Brexit will hit our community and I have every right to be anxious. The Local Government Association calculates that local communities face an £8.4bn funding gap from the point the UK exits the EU. Councils around the country are already beginning to fail due to cuts from the Conservative Government. Over the summer we learned that Somerset Council is likely to join Northamptonshire County Council in going bankrupt. Another 15 may join them in the next 12 months.

 

Councils need a further £8bn by 2025 just to stand still, never mind pay for the rising cost of adult social care. We can not withstand a Brexit double whammy too. We have repeatedly raised concerns about the impact on local councils. With such Brexit uncertainty who can plan for the future of local services, never mind make wise decisions?

Last year the EU invested £17m to support 600 farmers around Brighton; it has invested over £100m to support research projects and £1m to create jobs. Our city and this country still has had absolutely no clarity about where any of the EU funds will come from in the future.

voting-remain-because

Green Councillors, MPs and members from across the city campaigning for EU membership

This was the biggest decision in a lifetime and so much of it was built on lies, half truths, conjecture and so little of it on accountability, the truth, democracy. On a self-interested gamble from the Bullingdon Club we have redirected the entire fate of the nation. While a key ‘Leave’ argument focused on how the UK public could ‘take back control’, on core issues like human rights, or our trading relationship with the world post-Brexit, the public are being frozen out of the debate. While the lies are now coming out daily in the wash, have we had anything other than the hubris of government ministers about the lies and corruption at work?

Twenty years on from when fences and borders were being pulled down by communities in Northern Ireland on their brave steps towards peace, it is a disgrace that the European Research Group and their far right friends are leading the charge on ending this legacy. There are hundreds of jobs in Northern Ireland- and so much of its infrastructure- that relies on EU funding. Over the summer I talked to dozens of people in Northern Ireland about how they feel- many sadly are now openly talking about the return to war. We should be very clear: that if there is war in Northern Ireland there will be war here too. So we must do everything we can to revive the Northern Irish peace process and give functioning, thriving democratic institutions back to the people.

border in ireland

A sign protesting the imposition of an EU border between Ireland and Northern Ireland

A Pandora’s box of resentment and suspicion has been opened up by the fanciful claims that ‘we’ could somehow get ‘our’ country back through a Brexit vote. The xenophobic genie is out of the bottle – but what do you expect against a backdrop of 8 years of Tory cuts, of nasty scapegoating. We must be clear: we will oppose the growth of the far-right and will not allow the current climate of fear to go unchallenged. That’s because not just Brighton and Hove- but this country- is better than this.

It is time to drag Brexit back to the drawing board so that councils like Brighton and Hove and the people we serve have our say and stand a chance in the future. Last year Brighton and Hove City Council became the first English Council to back a ‘People’s Vote’ when Green Councillors brought a proposal forward. It has now been joined by dozens of other councils. We have already asked the Government to reveal the truth about the impact that leaving the EU will have on the city. But I won’t be holding my breath for a response.


BrightonandHoveBrexitNoM

A Green proposal on the People’s Vote made Brighton and Hove City Council the first in England to back a ‘ratification referendum’ on Brexit. A split in the Labour party and Conservative opposition meant the proposal passed by one vote.

The times are uncertain but we must be focused and vocal as our city and our country stands to be drastically affected. There is a way out of the dreadful mess. Defiance is the only reasonable response in the face of such political incompetence. Repeatedly polls are showing a slim majority support for a second vote on Brexit. Now the shambolic ‘deal’ is coming to light, people deserve a genuine say over the future of the country through a people’s vote. We can still stop Brexit. We can still repair our relationship with Europe. But we can’t stop there, we have to fundamentally change how the European Union works so it works for the very communities who have felt so alienated by it and our precious environment.

Phelim Brexit peoples vote speech

At the People’s Vote march in Brighton, September 16th

 

40 years of the rainbow flag: why we still need to wear the symbol with pride

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty

Next weekend marks one of the biggest in the city’s calendar as we come together to celebrate our LGBT community for Pride. As we did for Trans Pride on 21st July, Greens will once again march with all those who stand together for equality and liberation.

This year is also the 40th anniversary of the iconic rainbow flag. Designed by artist Gilbert Baker, the flag was first flown at San Francisco’s Pride march in 1978. Now a celebrated symbol of the LGBT community, it is rooted in activism. Following the tragic assassination of the first openly gay US politician Harvey Milk, demand for the flags soared. Today we wear the symbol with pride – but despite progress, we know that our activism must continue, as one in four LGBT people have experienced violent hate crime. Four in ten British people believe gay sex is unnatural. Homophobia is legitimised in government with the partnership between the Conservative Party and the stridently homophobic Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who have blocked equal marriage in Northern Ireland. The noisy march for equality goes on beyond Pride weekend.

Gilbert Baker with original rainbow flag

Designer of the rainbow flag, Gilbert Baker. The original flag (as reproduced in the image) had 8 colours, including pink.

And this is why: Theresa May’s Government’s continued policy of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants has exacerbated LGBT persecution. Data published by the UK Government last November revealed that thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans asylum seekers have been refused entry into the UK from countries where they will face prison, violence or even death. Not a single applicant from India or Sri Lanka, where homosexuality is illegal, were accepted by the Home Office.

Worse still, asylum seekers have described facing intense discrimination in the process of making their claims, including being asked for explicit pictures to ‘prove’ their sexuality. People whose claims are rejected are then subject to detention centres, places that national charity Stonewall found were “little sanctuary from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse.” In a country where homosexuality has been ‘decriminalised’ we are still locking people up for being LGBT.

As the city becomes a show of colour and celebration we should take the time to remember that LGBT people at home and abroad still face bigotry and violence. On Saturday we must march for them. As we celebrate the progress made in the fight for LGBT equality, we are reminded by the rainbow flag in its 40th year that it is the dedication of campaigners and courage of communities, refusing to be silent, that has made progress on LGBT rights possible.

Greens will continue to campaign for an end to the brutal ‘hostile environment’ policy of this Conservative Government that punishes those already vulnerable for who they love. We will campaign until we have lasting equality both here and abroad.

BHGP Pride 2017 with flag

Marching for equality at Brighton and Hove Pride last year

I wish everyone a safe, happy and sustainable Pride.