East Sussex County Council urged to back new climate change legislation

Calls for East Sussex County Council to back new legislation on climate change are set for consideration by a senior councillor next week. 

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 3:17 pm

On Tuesday (September 14), lead member for resources and climate change Nick Bennett is set to consider a notice of motion from Cllr Georgia Taylor, co-leader of the Green Party group.

The motion calls on the authority to give its support to the Climate and Ecology Emergency Bill, a private member’s bill sponsored by Brighton Pavillion MP Caroline Lucas, which would put into law a number of new responsibilities for the government. 

Among other things, the bill would require the UK to take measures to limit global warming to 1.5°C and to include emissions from imports when measuring its carbon footprint. 

County Hall in Lewes/East Sussex County Council offices SUS-210823-124355001

In her motion, Cllr Taylor said: “Without more significant and sustained action, the world is set to exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit between 2030 and 2040. Therefore, the current UK target of net zero by 2050 is not sufficient.

“It is too little too late. The increase in harm caused by a rise of 2°C rather than 1.5°C is significant. This is described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C published in October 2018. 

“According to the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), limiting heating to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and local communities.

“The costs of failing to address this crisis will far outstrip the investments required to prevent it. Investing now will bring many benefits in the form of good jobs, breathable cities and thriving communities.”

The motion will ultimately go to a full council vote, but not until Cllr Bennnett makes a recommendation as the responsible cabinet member. 

Officers are recommending that Cllr Bennett does not support the motion. They say this is because the bill is ‘unclear’ in how it would speed up climate and ecological action beyond current and forthcoming legislation. 

As part of this, officers advise the council should wait until further measures and strategies to come forward before supporting the measures set out in the bill.

In a report to be considered by Cllr Bennett, council officers said: “The county council recognises the urgency of addressing climate change and biodiversity loss, as reflected in its climate emergency action plan and its lead role in the Sussex Local Nature Partnership. 

“However, the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill does not set out how its enactment would address climate change or biodiversity loss any more effectively than current or anticipated legislation and strategies. 

“For this reason, the lead member is recommended to recommend to the county council that the notice of motion be rejected.”