Cam­paign­ers call for cli­mate emer­gency to be de­clared

West Sussex Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Karen Dunn Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter ws.let­[email protected]­me­

Fears that coastal ar­eas in West Sus­sex could be dev­as­tated by ris­ing sea lev­els have prompted calls for a cli­mate emer­gency to be de­clared.

The is­sue will be raised with the county coun­cil at a meet­ing this week af­ter a No­tice of Mo­tion was added to the agenda by Michael Jones (Lab, South­gate & Gos­sops Green). Mr Jones will tell the meet­ing that coun­cils all over the world have al­ready de­clared such emer­gen­cies and West Sus­sex should do the same.

He said: “West Sus­sex is al­ready suf­fer­ing from flood­ing prob­lems, and a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of its pop­u­la­tion and a large num­ber of its set­tle­ments are based in coastal ar­eas which would po­ten­tially be dev­as­tated by a rise in sea lev­els caused by con­tin­ual global warm­ing.”

The No­tice of Mo­tion also calls for the coun­cil to aim to be car­bon neu­tral by 2030 and to ap­peal to the gov­ern­ment to help make that tar­get pos­si­ble.

The coun­cil has al­ready put in a lot of work to re­duce its car­bon foot­print. Its sus­tain­abil­ity strat­egy for 2015-2019 states that car­bon emis­sions have been re­duced by more than a quar­ter since 2010/11, with a tar­get of 50 per cent re­duc­tion by 2025.

The pledge was to use the min­i­mum amount of nat­u­ral re­sources with more en­ergy com­ing from re­new­able sources.

Mr Jones added: “Coun­cils like West Sus­sex are uniquely placed to lead the world in re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions – for ex­am­ple be­cause of their ca­pac­ity for lo­cal en­ergy gen­er­a­tion, such as run­ning our own so­lar farms and pro­mot­ing so­lar en­ergy take up among lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions and res­i­dents, sup­port­ing the greater use of elec­tric pow­ered ve­hi­cles both in the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor and for per­sonal use, and in­vest­ing fur­ther in pub­lic trans­port.”

Mean­while, cam­paign­ers are plan­ning to hold a march and a ‘die-in’ in Chich­ester as they urge the county coun­cil to de­clare a ‘ci­mate change emer­gency’.

Sarah Sharp, a city coun­cil­lor from the Green Party, spoke at a West Sus­sex meet­ing on cli­mate change in Hor­sham on Sat­ur­day, Fe­bru­ary 2. She said: “There was pretty much univer­sal ap­proval that we should fo­cus our ef­forts on en­cour­ag­ing our coun­cils to de­clare a cli­mate emer­gency.”

The next ‘big event’ Sarah said was planned to put pres­sure on West Sus­sex County Coun­cil would be on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 15, when a march and a ‘die-in’ – where peo­ple lay down as if dead – was to be held at County Hall in Chich­ester.

Sarah said: “To some, the ur­gency of the sit­u­a­tion does war­rant the die-ins and the more at­ten­tion-grab­bing ac­tions. To oth­ers, the quiet but per­sis­tent ques­tion­ing of the be­liefs and at­ti­tudes of those peo­ple putting them­selves for­ward for lo­cal coun­cil elec­tions will be more ap­pro­pri­ate and nat­u­ral.”

Sarah said she told the meet­ing of the progress made since she put a mo­tion about the ‘cli­mate emer­gency’ on the agenda of the city coun­cil in De­cem­ber.

She said: “It was de­cided that we had to post­pone any de­ci­sion about an emer­gency and the change to the Terms of Ref­er­ence and the work­ing group due to the fact that any de­ci­sions would have to be rat­i­fied by the full coun­cil that is due to meet next in April and this would be pur­dah (due to the elec­tion com­ing up in May).

“For many of us aware of the ur­gency of the cli­mate cri­sis, the de­lay is ex­tremely frus­trat­ing.” Sarah said it was ‘a start’ that the city coun­cil said it would en­cour­age schools to take part in a cli­mate change com­pe­ti­tion.

“I have also of­fered that Chich­ester should host one of the joint meet­ings of the SOS group (af­ter May),” she said. “I be­lieve we all need to en­gage with the sub­ject of cli­mate change - each in­di­vid­ual, each layer of coun­cil right up to the top.

“This is not a thing we just for­get about be­cause Trump or China or some­one else isn’t do­ing much. We all have to act.”

The SOS meet­ing in Hor­sham. The group is plan­ning to stage a ‘die-in’ at County Hall in Chich­ester on Fri­day.

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