Measures to tackle climate change costing £20 million have been promised by the ruling Greens in Brighton and Hove.
Many of the carbon reduction measures are already happening, the Greens said, with more projects in the pipeline.
The party spoke out after campaigners from Extinction Rebellion called for Brighton and Hove City Council to allocate £5 million of its budget for next year to tackling climate change.
A member of the campaign group, Venetia Carter, was due to address councillors this afternoon (Thursday 17 December). Last week she said that would go on hunger strike to protest about inaction by the council.
And yesterday the Greens said: “We will go further. The Green council is set to spend more than £20 million on carbon reduction measures if plans are approved in February 2021.
“Brighton and Hove’s ruling Green Party have reassured Extinction Rebellion Brighton of their planned actions to tackle the climate crisis ahead a petition which will be debated by councillors.
“The petition asks for four actions from the council, which Greens say that they will exceed ahead of the suggested deadlines.
“Brighton and Hove City Council declared a climate and biodiversity emergency following a Green motion in December 2018.
“Responding to the ask for £5 million in February’s budget to be assigned to climate action, Greens have revealed that current figures estimate £20 million investment on carbon reduction measures.
“This includes spending on transport improvements, warmer homes and biodiversity projects.
“Campaigners have also requested a legally binding citizens assembly to be held to inform a climate action plan.
“Citizens assemblies cannot be legally binding. Despite this, a climate assembly was held earlier this year, with the report due to be released in January 2021.
“This will then inform the council’s Carbon Neutral Plan which is expected to be agreed by councillors in March.
“Greens also say that despite the council not having a confirmed plan, progress has been made in reducing toxic emissions.”
Green councillor Amy Heley, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, was due to respond to the petition at the council meeting today.
She said: “We welcome the voices of climate campaigners as we take action on the climate crisis.
“I’m pleased to say that we already have plans in place that go further than the suggested asks in the petition.
“We have just finished our first climate assembly. The assembly was asked to discuss how we can reduce emissions from transport in the city.
“Originally planned for March to May 2020, but because of covid-19, it took place between September and November this year.
“I’m thrilled that the findings are going to be presented to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee on (Tuesday) 19 January.
“The discussions from the climate assembly and beyond are what is being used to inform our Carbon Neutral Plan which is due to be published in the spring.
“We are also currently preparing our budget for February’s budget council. Despite the drastic impact of the pandemic on council services, we are determined to not bounce out of one crisis into another and know we need to invest in a green recovery.
“So far, our investment measures are set to reach £20 million, including some delayed spending from Greens’ £11 million budget amendments in February this year.”
Green council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “Since declaring climate and biodiversity emergencies, the city council has calculated the full impact of the city’s toxic emissions in order that we move fast to take effective action to prevent the climate crisis.
“This work includes building low-energy council homes, rewilding a gold course and planting meadows in Valley Gardens.
“We’ve become the country’s most sustainable city for food. We are placing solar panels on our buildings and reducing the emissions from transport.
“We are doing this alongside embedding measures which will help longer term in areas of the council’s work such as planning, design, procurement and business.
“We are committed to playing our full part in reducing toxic emissions but the council only accounts for just 2 per cent of carbon emissions in the city.
“As such, we hope Extinction Rebellion will help everyone in the city play their part in tackling climate change.”
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