Rother District Council has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030, after becoming the latest local authority to declare a climate emergency.
The pledge was made at a full council meeting on Monday (September 16), as councillors unanimously passed a motion put forward by the Rother Alliance – the council’s cross-party leadership group.
Introducing the motion, cabinet member for environment and transport Kathryn Field (Lib Dem) said: “We as councillors and the council are in a very good position for influencing the rest of the community. We are role models and we can take people with us.
“The government has a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, we believe that actually we should aspire to being carbon neutral by 2030. We have been told we have 11 years before the damage to the climate of this planet is irreversible.
“I think 2030 is a very reasonable target and it should be at the forefront of our minds to work hard for that goal.
“We can’t do this on our own. We must involve the community, we must take them with us and not do it to them.
“I’m hoping that in the new year we can have a conference in Bexhill to talk to people, get their ideas and in particular speak with young people. It is after all their futures.”
As well as the pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030, the motion: called on the council to ask Government to provide additional powers and funding to become carbon neutral; seek other external funding to achieve this goal; and identify climate champions for communities in Rother.
It also requested that cabinet set up a steering group responsible for creating an action plan for the council’s future work on climate change.
The final motion also included an amendment, put forward by Cllr John Barnes, Conservative councillor for Burwash and the Weald.
Cllr Barnes’ amendment added a call for the council to ‘urgently’ review and update its current carbon strategy and directed the council to look at what other gases make up its emissions “which adversely affect climate change even more than carbon [dioxide].”
Speaking in support of both the amendment and the main motion, Cllr Sally Ann Hart (Con, Eastern Rother) said: “I think it is absolutely essential we do this and I congratulate you for doing this.
“It is absolutely imperative that every single one of us takes responsibility, in whatever way we can, to reduce carbon emission and to take care of our world. Our environmental conservation counts.”
Cllr Hart also called on the council to go further and to work towards making Rother a single-use plastics free zone.
Several other councillors also spoke in favour of the motion, including Cllr Sam Coleman and Cllr Paul Courtel (Lab), Cllr Susan Prochak (Lib Dem), Cllr Paul Osborne (Con), Cllr Lynn Langlands (Ind) and Cllr Polly Gray (Green).
After a short discussion the motion was unanimously agreed by councillors, with the decision prompting applause from residents and campaigners in the public gallery.
In passing the motion, Rother District Council became the fifth district or borough council to declare a climate emergency in East Sussex.