After a co-operative alliance of Greens, Lib Dems, Labour and independents took control of Lewes District Council, the first order of business was announcing a climate emergency. Picture credit: Carlotta Junger Luke

On Monday 15th July the full council voted to declare a climate emergency, and to implement seven actions to get the council to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This is the date when scientists say that irreversible climate change will otherwise occur. Emissions have to halve by 2030 and get to zero globally by mid-century to have a good chance of avoiding a disastrous temperature rise above 1.5 degrees. Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, (who worked on a climate change plan ten years ago when he worked for LDC) introduced the Motion to Declare a Climate Emergency.

Hear Matthew Bird’s speech here… on the LDC webcast player

He said: “I’m determined that we do everything we can as a council to rise to the challenge of the climate emergency. The heatwaves, droughts, floods and wildfires that have hit Europe show that climate heating is happening now. And it’s going to get worse. So far, our part of the world has escaped the worst, but we can’t be complacent. That’s why we must lead as a council to help our community avoid the worst outcomes.

“Our declaration of a climate emergency is just the start. We will back it up with firm action to cut emissions and help prepare our community for the changed climate. Every aspect of the council’s work and services will be measured, scrutinised and reported to ensure we focus on cutting emissions efficiently and prepare effectively for the changed climate. Working together, we can meet the greatest challenge our community faces. We have lost ten years and now need absolute clarity and focus. It is vital that we do this together with our local community. We will convene a Community Climate Change Forum with invitees from a wide range of groups and individuals and will especially involve young people.

“Our first actions will be to get more electric vehicle charging points, including for light commercial vehicles and taxis – grants are available until 2021. There are many other opportunities to achieve a zero carbon district by 2030 and support the local economy.”

Wealden District Council has declared a climate emergency. Lewes Town Council declared a climate emergency in April.

Many other councils have declared an emergency and are taking strong action – see The Guardian: Climate crisis: can councils deliver on bold promises to cut emissions?

For a full (and growing) list see https://www.climateemergency.uk