In Lewes, we’re fortunate to have a district council that recognises the urgent need to act on the climate crisis. Even with lower global carbon emissions due to the coronavirus lockdown, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is too high and still rising, putting the world in danger of disruption that will dwarf that created by Covid-19, from breakdown of food supplies to wide-scale societal collapse.
Last year, Lewes District Council declared a climate emergency and started to make plans for the council itself and the whole district to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2030 – far more ambitious than the UK government’s own deadline of 2050. Net zero means that the amount of carbon going into the air is reduced drastically, and what remains is balanced through activities such as reforestation.
So what has LDC done to work towards its 2030 goal? Here are its actions so far:
- Employing an officer to develop and implement a detailed plan of action
- Involving all departments and committees so that their actions are all consistent with the 2030 net zero emissions target
- Setting up a panel of local experts, a community forum, and a youth forum, so that local people are fully involved in decisions and supporting action
- Getting all council electricity from renewable suppliers
- Looking into more local generation from wind and solar. That includes investing in the solar PV panels that local community energy company Ovesco is installing on local schools
- Plans to assess the district’s 3,500 council homes to determine what energy saving and carbon reduction measures can be put in place. They will then undertake retrofitting work, using local tradespeople where possible and encouraging development of skills
- Enabling home owners to get expert advice, access to a network of pre-vetted contractors and quality checking on energy efficiency improvements with Warmer Sussex. For £75, Warmer Sussex will carry out a remote survey of your home so that you understand your options. Or, you can opt for a home visit survey for £200, which will provide a detailed strategy tailored to your requirements. Also, a free online tool will be available shortly.
- Publicising Your Energy Sussex, which is a not-for-profit owned by Sussex councils and offers renewable energy at competitive prices. YES uses any profits from tariffs to fund a fuel poverty voucher administered by Citizens Advice
- Making plans to make the District more able to cope with floods, droughts, storms and heatwaves, which are all expected to get more frequent and severe
- Setting up a walking and cycling forum and investigating if an eBike share scheme would work in the District.
Supporting council action
These steps are very welcome and a great start but the council cannot do all of this alone. It needs the full support of environmental and community groups, businesses and individuals to help spread the message and take action to deliver the massive changes we’ll need to see over the next ten years.
But if we do all work with LDC, our local action, coupled with that of many other councils that have declared a climate emergency, can hopefully drive other authorities and the national government to take the steps that are now so critical to manage the climate crisis.
Look out for a new council webpage with details of all LDC reports and actions on the climate crisis, and how to get involved at https://www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk.