27 November 2019 Council and democracy

Working together on the climate emergency

Councillors are formalising a cross-party working group to deliver actions which will tackle the climate crisis and ensure the climate emergency is at the heart of the council’s agenda and influences all other policies.

Brighton & Hove was one of the first councils in the country to declare a climate emergency and has pledged to become a carbon neutral city by 2030. To achieve this ambitious aim, we want to hear from residents as this affects all of us and we will all have a role to play.

Next week we will be putting forward proposals for a city-wide climate assembly.  This will give residents a unique opportunity to recommend actions for the council to address the climate emergency and move the city towards being carbon neutral.

A climate assembly for Brighton & Hove

It is likely that the climate assembly will focus on the highest causes of carbon emissions and how to address them. This will then influence new policy and form part of a wider consultation with the city.

Currently 95% of Brighton & Hove’s carbon emissions come from transport and ‘stationary’ energy such as domestic and commercial heating and energy consumption.

Members of the climate assembly could shape transport policy by contributing to the next local transport plan for the city. We will need to bring down emissions by focussing on low-carbon transport; active travel and alternative energy provision. The climate assembly will be your opportunity to shape policy and how we combat climate chaos over the next decade.

Council leader Nancy Platts said: “Ensuring that the next generation have a sustainable future is the most urgent issue facing all of us. This is an enormous challenge that none of us can address alone. 

“Our city is full of people with knowledge, creativity and goodwill that we would love to harness. The future of our planet is at stake and I want you to have a say in how we combat the climate crisis together. We would want the climate assembly to help us determine the actions we must take as a city council to make us carbon neutral by 2030.” 

Taking urgent action

At the Policy & Resources Committee on 5 December councillors will be asked to formally agree that the 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme members working group will be set up to advise the committee on climate actions.

Councillors in the working group will also oversee the development and delivery of the 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme together with activities to highlight the climate emergency and improve biodiversity. 

The council declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in December 2018.

Leader of the Green Group, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty added: “More than a wake-up call, this is an emergency. Most now know that we have just 11 years to limit the catastrophic effects of global warming and stop temperatures exceeding 1.5c. At 2c we face a complete climate breakdown. 

“We are all too often seeing glimpses of a planet struggling to cope with the climate crisis: this week floods grip Yorkshire and fires rage in Australia, so we can no longer afford to wait.

“Together we can make a positive change if we are willing to take transformative action. Green councillors are proud to have pushed the council to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency and commit to playing our fullest part at a local level. We will do everything in our power to help the city go carbon neutral by 2030.” 

Involving the city

The council will be inviting bids from experienced organisations to help establish and host the Brighton & Hove climate assembly which will be independent of the council. 

The proposal is to bring together around 50 residents to take part in a number of sessions and make recommendations which will feed into a climate programme for the city. The climate assembly members will focus on transport and energy which cause the highest emissions in Brighton & Hove and will be able to call on an independent panel to help collect and present evidence.

Conservative group spokesperson for the environment, councillor Lee Wares said: “The creation of the climate assembly made up of residents from all walks of life and across the whole city will be invaluable to the council to understand what people want it to focus on. 

“It is important that what the council does has the support of the whole city and every community without anybody feeling they are being forced or being imposed upon. It is hoped this process will provide a homogenous strategy across all areas of the council.”

Once established it is anticipated the climate assembly will meet between February and April to shape a programme of action from May 2020. The councillor working group will make sure the assembly is inclusive and represents a cross section of people in the city.

Read the report about the climate assembly (agenda item number 88).

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