City Council becomes latest to commit to action on climate change and species extinction
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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!!”
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.
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.”
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
Ed Baker lives in East Brighton and is the Green candidate in the upcoming East Brighton by-election on 8th February.
On 27th December Lloyd Russell-Moyle resigned his council seat representing East Brighton. With the election date set for 8th February, the four main party candidates are on the campaign trail.
I’m very proud to have been selected as the Green Party candidate. I’m doubly proud that the Greens have been the only party to field a candidate who lives in the ward.
I’ve lived in Brighton for more than 12 years. In that time I’ve fallen in love with our city. I’ve also been increasingly dismayed by the very visible damage wrought by national austerity policies from a cruel and complacent Tory government.
In 2016, rough sleeping in Brighton doubled. In 2017 it increased by nearly another quarter. This gives Brighton the grim accolade of the largest homeless population outside London. But this crisis is an iceberg – we know there are far more ‘hidden homeless’ sleeping on sofas or in their cars, who aren’t counted among the rough sleepers.
These numbers are greatly upsetting, and should be treated by the Labour-run council as an ongoing emergency. Again, the Greens are leading the way, spearheading an initiative to open council buildings as night shelters.
But to properly resolve our housing crisis, we need more genuinely affordable homes. Pressure from Green councillors has led to new flats in Hollingdean set at affordable rents, linked to a percentage of income rather than market rates. I strongly support this and want to see similar rents applied to more new homes.
The pain caused of austerity politics is felt really sharply in East Brighton, which encompasses some of the most neglected areas of the city. Since 2011 the ward has been represented by six Labour councillors, and now a Labour MP, and still we see cuts to vital services and record numbers referred to food banks. All this while Labour claim to have been focusing on ‘getting the basics right’. This displays a spectacular lack of ambition for our city, with even this low bar missed by a mile. On the doorsteps, residents tell me about their dissatisfaction, and how Labour have taken their votes for granted.
I’m excited to represent East Brighton. Only the Green party have the political courage to properly stand up to Tory cuts, and hold Labour to account for standing by and watching it happen.
With Green Party MP Caroline Lucas
But the Green vision doesn’t stop at opposition to austerity. Our ambitions for Brighton see the city leading the way as a modern and sustainable place to live and work.
We applaud the more than 50 companies locally who’ve taken the Plastic Free Pledge to abandon the ecological disaster of single-use plastics, and call on the council to do the same.
Air pollution is hugely damaging to our children’s health, and costs the national economy £16bn a year. We imagine a cleaner, healthier Brighton served by an entirely zero-emissions public transport network.
A Green vote in the by-election on the 8th of February is a vote for your local community. A vote for a cleaner, greener, fairer and more affordable East Brighton. It’s a vote for a more ambitious future, because Brighton deserves better than the basics.
Brighton & Lewes Downs became a UNESCO Biosphere Region in 2014, now threatened by planned cuts.
The recent round of floods across the country was another in a series of wake-up calls on climate change. Already we are seeing the impacts of the 1C rise in global temperatures so far, as freak rainfall events become more common and the scale of flooding increases. It is a stark reminder of the impending threat of massive and catastrophic climate change over the next few decades.
The floods are an example of how the government’s ideological austerity programme has brought misery and destruction to the country. In the 2010 spending review, the coalition government slashed flood defence spending by over £100m in a single year, and despite one-off high-profile cash boosts, this trend has continued. The Environment Agency’s funding for maintaining flood assets has fallen by 14% in response to cuts. Floods in 2015 alone cost the economy £5.8 billion and displaced thousands of people. Cutting spending on flood protection is counter-productive and hugely damaging to at-risk communities.
Investment in flood protection is just a sticking plaster for climate change, and one that will become increasingly expensive as environmental damage outstrips our capacity to mitigate it. What is needed is a comprehensive and holistic approach to tackling the causes of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It requires a shift in our way of life towards a greener economy. Thankfully, the international community have agreed to limit climate change to less than 2%. What needs to happen now is to transform those lofty goals into meaningful action.
Views through the spectacular Devil’s Dyke – a precious green space for Brighton & Hove
At the national level, the last 6 months have revealed the government’s intention to cut back on environmental protection measures. In the latest spending review we saw cuts to subsidies for energy efficiency, renewable heating technology and home insulation, which comes on top of increases in the cost of renewable energy. We also saw cuts to the Department for Energy and Climate Change and Defra of 22% and 15% respectively. This follows the 2010-15 coalition government which according to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee presided over disastrous declines in air quality, biodiversity and flood protection. For central government, environmental protection is just another pocket of national spending to slash and burn.
Locally, in Brighton and Hove it is up to the Labour-led City Council to implement these Tory cuts. A role they seem to have taken up with no small amount of gusto, despite strong Green resistance. So far, the Labour Council has switched energy supplies away from renewable sources, refused to divest pension funds from fossil fuels and expressed unwavering support for expansion of air travel at Gatwick. Future plans in the 2016/17 budget include cuts to recycling budgets, sustainability teams and park rangers. Sadly, Labour seem to take the view that the environment is just another service to cut, a middle-class luxury that the city cannot afford in these hard times.
Floods in Brighton in 2015
When the consequences of inaction are the loss of homes, droughts, sea-level rise and rising food costs, investment in the environment is not a luxury. It is massively short-sighted to think we can wait until we are nearly underwater, when it will be too late to act. It is imperative and urgent that we act now. The Tory Government and Labour Council have it all backwards. The environment cannot be seen as just another service we cannot afford. With such high-stakes, the reality is we cannot afford NOT to act.
Greens are calling for a halt to austerity. It poses an immense risk to this city, this country, this planet. We must resist the cuts and demand a greener world. As families in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire try to pick up the pieces now the media spotlight is gone, they can tell you what climate change costs. If we don’t act soon, we will all be telling a similar story.