ESCC: This is climate emergency! Join the big climate demo @ County Hall on 12 October

Tuesday 12 October, 9.30 – 11am, County Hall, Lewes (BN7 1UE)
Assemble 8.30am outside Lewes station for 9am procession to County Hall

Two years after declaring a ‘climate emergency’ East Sussex County Council (ESCC) still needs to:

– divest from fossil fuels;
– take rapid action to de-carbonise the County; and
– back the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill.

Join us on 12 Oct to remind them that it’s time for climate action!

Organised by: Divest East Sussex, Lewes Climate Hub, XR Lewes
Supported by: Lewes District Green Party, Lewes Labour Party, Brighton Energy Coop, Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth, Energise Sussex Coast, Frack Free Sussex, Hanover Action, Lewes Liberal Democrats, Plastic Free Seaford, Seaford Environmental Alliance, South East Climate Alliance, Transition Town Hastings, Transition Town Lewes, University of Sussex Students’ Union, XR Brighton and XR Hastings & St Leonards.

Face masks encouraged.

BACKGROUND

This October will be the second anniversary of East Sussex County Council (ESCC) declaring a ‘climate emergency’.

Two years on, ESCC is still refusing to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund (which covers Brighton and Hove, as well as East Sussex) from fossil fuels [1], hasn’t endorsed the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill (which would ensure that the UK plays its fair and proper role in limiting global warming to 1.5°C) and appears to have done very little to make its ‘target’ of reducing the County’s carbon emissions by 13% a year a reality [2].

On Tuesday 12 October, ESCC will be holding its last Full Council meeting before this year’s historic UN Climate Summit in Glasgow. Join us on 12 October to remind ESCC that this *is* a climate emergency and that they need to start treating it like one.

ENDNOTES

[1] For a quick summary of the case for divestment see our briefing ‘Why East Sussex County Council still needs to divest from fossil fuels’.

[2] Last November thirty-three organisations from across East Sussex, Brighton and
Hove sent an open letter to East Sussex County Council (ESCC) calling on it to start treating the climate emergency like an emergency. That letter noted that, despite declaring a climate emergency in October 2019, ESCC was ‘still investing local people’s pensions in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas)’ (it still is) and had ‘only formulated a plan to de-carbonise its own activities by 2050, rather than the activities of the entire County, its people, business and services.’

The signatories called on ESCC: to stop investing local people’s pensions in fossil fuels; to rapidly develop and implement a plan for de-carbonising the whole of the County; and to publicly declare its support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which would ensure that the UK plays its fair and proper role in limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

In his written response (received by email on 22 December 2020), the Leader of the Council, Cllr Keith Glazier, stated that: 

’We are one of the partners behind the East Sussex Environment Strategy published this year. Climate change is one of its five key themes, and one of the strategy’s targets is for East Sussex to reduce carbon emissions by 13 per cent each year (by half every five years in other words). To help achieve this, our first action is to develop a road map to cut carbon emissions and this work, with our partners including district and boroughs is [sic] East Sussex, is going on now.’

A question to ESCC’s 23 July 2021 Full Council meeting asked ESCC: 

(a) What work had been done on this ‘road map’ since December?; 
(b) When would its contents be made public?; and 
(c) If implemented, how far it would go towards meeting Glazier’s ‘target’ of reducing the County’s carbon emissions by 13% each year?

In his written response, the Cllr Bennett (the Lead Member for Resources and Climate Change) stated the Council’s intention to publish this ‘road map’ ‘this Autumn’, stating that:

‘The draft road map currently proposes a mix of actions. The effect of some of these in reducing the county’s carbon emissions cannot be estimated, for instance actions to try to address some of the challenges in the low carbon supply chain. The effect of other actions in reducing carbon emissions can be estimated, for example from programmes to support local businesses to cut their carbon emissions or to support householders to invest in solar panels. But the effect of these programmes will be small when compared with the total current emissions from the county of about 2 million tonnes per year.’

Cllr Bennett attempted to excuse the underwhelming impact that the ‘road map”s implementation would appear to have on emissions by asserting that:



’tackling climate change requires action by every part of society and that the road map is only one part of a much larger jigsaw in what is required to reduce emissions – from consistent, long-term and funded government policy through to the individual choices made by each of us.’ 



However, such buck-passing would have greater credence if the County Council could actually point to *any* substantive efforts that it has taken since October 2019 to press the UK Government to finally get serious about climate change – which would include giving local authorities the powers and funding the powers and funding needed for them to take effective action.

(In his December 2019 response to letter from the 33 local groups, ESCC Leader Cllr Keith Glazier claimed that ESCC was ‘a member of various networks’ that are lobbying the UK government for ‘additional powers and funding’ to tackle climate change – but failed to provide a single concrete example of anything that ESCC had actually done.)

As the FT’s chief leader writer noted recently (emphases added):


’In the past few years, the scientific evidence became so overwhelming that conscientious western political leaders declared an emergency. Then they delayed — acting timidly, sporadically, belatedly …

What the politicians of both main parties really get wrong is to treat climate action as a headache, not a heart attack. Their priority is to get back to a post-pandemic “normal”. They think or hope that climate scientists’ warnings can be taken with a pinch of salt. (Perhaps this is a coping strategy.) They endorse long-term targets, and excuse themselves from urgent responsibility. Climate change is the defining issue of our times, but too few MPs entered politics because they care passionately about it.

‘Isn’t Britain already doing quite a lot, like banning sales of petrol cars from 2030? The problem is that, if you’re trying to reset your entire economy within a few decades, doing quite a lot is not enough. “We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices,” wrote the advisory Committee on Climate Change, in June. “A pattern has emerged of government strategies that are later than planned and, when they do emerge, short of the required policy ambition.” Climate action has been sucked into the usual policymaking quagmire. Better to subsidise heat-pumps and green home retrofits now, thereby lowering costs for the future, rather than spend months devising the perfect scheme.’

 

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