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Council declares climate emergency

Lewes District Council has declared a climate emergency. 

The declaration received unanimous support at a Full Council meeting this week (15 July). 

The council has also agreed a wide range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and become fully ‘climate-resilient’ by 2030. 

This work includes:

  • The development of a comprehensive Climate Change Strategy within 12 months that addresses all inward and outward-facing council functions and implements appropriate monitoring and reporting mechanisms in order to: ensure that all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; ensure that appropriate resources and capacity are put in place to progress the actions needed to address the 'climate emergency' effectively; support and work with relevant agencies and stakeholders towards making the entire district zero carbon and climate resilient by 2030.

  • To request Scrutiny Committee to set up a Climate Change Scrutiny Panel that receives progress reports on the policy and actions. This incorporates the existing request to Scrutiny Committee to monitor the implementation of recommendations made by the Climate Change Action Group. The Panel will also invite appropriate experts to support council climate change actions. 

  • To request that a Community Climate Change Forum is convened with representation and participation from across the district. Invitees to include, but not be restricted to, representatives from local communities, parish and town councils, organisations, business, education, nature groups, agriculture, food, health and transport groups.

  • To request that the council is especially proactive in taking steps to include young people in the 'Climate Emergency' process, ensuring that they have a voice in shaping the future. 

  • To report on an annual basis to the Audit and Standards Committee on the level of investment in the fossil fuel industry in the council’s pensions plan and other investments, and review the council’s investment strategy to give due consideration to climate change impacts in the investment portfolio.

  • To ensure that all reports in preparation for the 2020/21 budgeting take into account actions the council will take to address this emergency. 
  • The Cabinet portfolio holder write to the government to set out the Council’s intentions and call on the UK government to provide the powers, resources and help with funding to make this possible, and ask local MPs to do likewise. 

Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, said: 

“Climate change is the most serious and urgent challenge facing communities across the world and in Lewes District. 

“In October 2018 a ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C’ was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which describes the enormous harm that a 2°C average rise in global temperatures is likely to cause compared with a 1.5°C rise, and confirms that limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society and the private sector. 

“The UK government has recently committed to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 following advice from the committee on climate change.

“The council has recently carried out some work in considering the impacts of climate change through several meetings of the Climate Action Group and initiated actions such as feasibility for electric vehicle charging points and commissioned some modular housing. This is a good start. However much more urgent action is needed to keep temperature rises to 1.5°C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

“Action needs to be consistent, resourced, coordinated, robust and above all measurable. A growing number of UK local authorities have already passed 'Climate Emergency' motions calling for effective action in tackling climate change. We have a duty to respond to this urgent call for action.”

Published 16 July 2019