Just last week research placed North Street as the third worst for air pollution in the country.
When evidence already tells us air pollution knocks almost three years off average life expectancy, this must be a call to action.
The weather events of this year should warn us that our world is changing: earlier in the year, red alert floods saw parts of Wales and Worcestershire under water, echoed in the scenes of climate breakdown over recent weeks in the Arctic Circle where all records have been broken by the high temperatures.
The evidence is clear: without really serious action, we are hurling towards global temperatures that by 2030 could provoke a widespread climate crisis.
And we have to find ways that will help us take the urgent action needed to tackle the environmental crisis.
Just one of those is involving and empowering our residents who tell us with their lived experience how we tackle such enormous issues. It’s known as a “climate assembly”.
Why 2030? It’s the year the United Nations predicts if we haven’t taken enough action will see the world and the population suffer so detrimentally that it will have lasting harmful damage.
This week a random selection of residents in our city will receive a letter from Brighton and Hove City Council inviting them to the city’s first Climate Assembly.
If you are one of those, respond and you may be shortlisted to take part with 50 others.
This new event will bring together a diverse range of residents from all walks of life.
They will respond to information and come up with proposals for how they think our city can tackle the issue of toxic emissions.
With a whole third of those emissions from transport, the assembly will discuss this issue first.
We only have to look at the debate about Madeira Drive to see that everyone has an opinion.
The council is working with specialist organisations to ensure a diverse range of people can access the assembly and there are FAQs (frequently asked questions) explaining the process on the council’s website.
Importantly, anyone without access to a computer or mobile phone will be offered the support to ensure all communities can take part.
This said, knowledge is power – and if we know we will reach a tipping point by the year 2030, we need to take the strongest action possible before then.
In 2018 a Green proposal led to the council joining many other cities across the country in declaring a climate emergency to reduce the city’s toxic emissions by 2030.
I’m pleased to say that locally, councillors of all parties have committed to taking this forward.
Work across the political spectrum is allowing us to discover ways our city can face the challenges ahead.
Further the Climate Assembly forms part of a shared pledge between Labour and Green councillors to take the strongest action possible to tackle the climate crisis.
The collected thoughts of residents in the Climate Assembly will be placed at the very heart of the council’s decision-making.
Because, as Greens have said before, politicians are not the only voices and this extraordinary period requires us to work collaboratively.
There can be no denying that tackling the climate emergency will mean changes, in fact it already has.
But as the covid-19 crisis has made clear, the way we treat our environment has a serious impact on our own quality of life and, of course, on our health.
So many of the ways we tackle the climate crisis are also ways we help recover from the pandemic and make our city a fairer place to live.
With something like the mass insulation of homes, we drive down fuel bills for residents, we create skilled jobs and apprenticeships, we create warm homes as well as playing our part in reducing our carbon footprint.
Likewise, if we encourage more walking and cycling, we help improve air quality, we take steps to keep ourselves healthy and we make our streets safer. A win for Brighton and Hove’s residents as well as the planet.
The covid-19 restrictions mean for everyone’s safety the event will be online but the conversation certainly doesn’t start and end here.
To avoid a climate crisis and ensure a fair and sustainable recovery from the pandemic, we welcome the thoughts and views of all residents as we continue to lead the council through these incredibly challenging times.
You can email the council at email@example.com.
And if you receive a letter from the council this week inviting you to participate, we encourage you to take your seat at the climate assembly and help shape the future of our city.
With a climate crisis upon us, we cannot miss a single opportunity to create a fairer and more environmentally sustainable future.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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