Council’s carbon reduction pledge put to vote

Wind turbinesCOUNCILLORS in East Sussex are being asked to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and back a pledge to achieve carbon neutral status by 2050 at the latest.

East Sussex County Council members are recommended to back a cross-party motion committing it to formulating an action plan to meet the target by reducing emissions from the council’s operations.

A composite of two separate motions submitted by Labour and Conservative councillors respectively, it comes amid growing calls around the world for urgent action on climate change.

The council has slashed its carbon emissions by 46 per cent in a decade – the equivalent to taking 6,900 cars off the road – and last month announced a switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity for all street lights and council buildings.

County council deputy leader Cllr Nick Bennett, who submitted the Conservative motion, said: “We have made great steps towards reducing our carbon emissions in recent years, but there’s a lot more work to do.

“I’d urge council to back this motion, which commits us to setting out a clear plan of action to achieve the ambitious but realistic target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest, exploring external funding and regularly updating full council on progress.”

The council has recently set up an Environment Board to update its existing Environment Strategy, which outlines ways in which the council and its partners can work for a greener county.

Carbon emissions in East Sussex as a whole have fallen by 27 per cent since 2005, but rates for transport emissions have fallen slower than those from commercial and domestic sectors, and now account for 44 per cent of total emissions in the county.

Labour group co-leader Cllr Trevor Webb, who submitted the Labour motion, said: “Climate change is the biggest issue facing all of us, and something which crosses political boundaries.

“The recent protests around the world show the growing strength of feeling on this and it’s right that the council should clearly commit itself to becoming carbon neutral as soon as possible.”

Measures taken by the council to reduce its carbon emissions include improved insulation and more energy-efficient lighting and heating while work with partners across the county includes funding for ‘green economy’ jobs and projects to install insulation and heating for households in fuel poverty.

The motion will be voted on at a meeting of full council on Tuesday, October 15 2019. More information is available in the meeting papers at