Campaigners call for climate emergency to be declared
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.