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.

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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

 

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The environment isn’t just another service to cut

By CLLR LOUISA GREENBAUM

 

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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.

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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.

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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.