West Sussex County Council action on Climate Change does not go far enough, say green groups

18 April 2019

Chichester Climate Change Forum has expressed disappointment at West Sussex County Council’s decision not to declare a Climate Emergency. The council recently announced its intention to do more to tackle climate change, but stopped short of signing the ‘emergency’ - unlike many other other authorities around the country.

While the Climate Change action group, a coalition of green groups set up in 2015 to raise awareness of climate change in Chichester, welcomes the measures already being taken, such as using renewable energy in council buildings and cutting down on energy use, these are currently being contradicted by the Council’s other actions. For example, despite stating that residents should be encouraged to make ‘low carbon journeys’ the council has cut bus services and supported the building of huge new roads across the county. As new roads attract more traffic, they will contribute further to the burning of fossil fuels. Sarah Sharp, spokeswoman, says, ‘the Council should be subsidising public transport in the area instead of encouraging more driving, if it is serious about its pledge to do more to combat climate change.’

The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority’, continues Sarah. ‘To meet the urgent challenge outlined in the IPCC report, we all have a part to play. It is important for us all in West Sussex that the local council commits to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible.’

The Climate Change Forum points out that bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities, as well as improved well-being for people. West Sussex is well-placed to champion rural decarbonisation. The district has abundant clean renewable resources (solar, wind and tidal lagoons) to become 100% self-reliant on zero-carbon energy. They are asking the Council to call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to ensure that the target for carbon neutrality by 2030 is met; and to provide a fully costed action plan to meet this target.

If this does not happen, then the Council will be doing too little, too late, and the people of West Sussex will bear the consequences in the near future.