OPINION

Coalition kept quiet about their ‘D’ on climate change

Posted On 21 Jul 2021 at 11:44 am

Last year Brighton and Hove News broke the news that since the 2019 local elections, Labour and the Greens have been running Brighton and Hove City Council according to an extensive written “coalition” agreement called the Memorandum of Understanding.

According to the text of the memorandum, several key policy areas are covered by this Labour-Green arrangement, one of which is climate change.

Following questions put to the leader of the council at last week’s council meeting, we know that this coalition arrangement is still operational, despite the recent changes in Labour leadership.

On this policy then, Greens and Labour must clearly be judged jointly on their performance to date. So how is this Labour-Green coalition on climate change doing?

Recent revelations at the council suggest the answer to this question is “not very well at all”.

Carbon (non) disclosure

For many years now the council has been part of the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The idea of the project is that cities across the world have their performance on climate change ranked according to consistent metrics and their performance published online.

The Disclosure Project says that its program has a number of advantages, from improved engagement to centralising data and tracking progress.

The project provides cities with all publicly available data, evaluates your response, benchmarks your performance against peers and finds areas of opportunity for your city. Sounds good so far.

The council pays to be a member and no doubt thought it was a good look to join. Here’s the problem – since 2015, the city has never had a result disclosed.

At the recent Carbon Neutral Member Working Group, a Labour-Green dominated council working group, I asked why the council had never disclosed its performance.

In response I was told that the council did not disclose its performance on climate change in the most recent year (2020) because it got a “D”.

So, after 10 years of Labour and the Greens running Brighton and Hove, including at least two years in this coalition on climate, this was the best our city could achieve – a D grade.

What a poor reflection this is on both the Greens and Labour and their policies in this city.

Coalition of secrets

While it is concerning enough that our city scored a D, what is even more concerning is that the Green-Labour Coalition on Climate Change apparently decided to keep this a secret from the public and not disclose its performance.

It is another example of how this coalition deal has cast a long shadow over democracy in the city over the past two years, shutting out the light and restricting scrutiny of important matters.

We know that according to text of their deal, Labour and Greens have been holding monthly meetings to discuss areas of policy listed in the Memorandum of Understanding such as climate change.

Was a decision made at one of these meetings to stop the council disclosing its poor climate change performance, where it was given a D?

We will never know, because the leaders of the Greens and Labour will not answer questions or publish minutes about what is discussed in these behind the scenes meetings, which are completely removed from the public domain.

Anti-democratic

It is difficult not to conclude that this “coalition in all but name” is an anti-democratic force in the city.

But following my intervention at the working group, the council has now committed to report publicly to the Carbon Disclosure Project every year and let its score be known, starting for 2021.

We must make sure that they stick to their word and disclose future results to the public so that we can scrutinise and assess how the Labour-Green coalition on climate change is performing.

After all, public money is being spent on the council’s membership of the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The revelation about the city’s climate change performance has come during the same month that the Green leader of the council has demanded “a seat at the table” at COP26, the United Nations’ international climate change conference being hosted in Glasgow this autumn.

With the city’s D performance and recent environmental disasters, such as the council severing Europe’s longest “Green Wall”, is he really in a position to be lecturing others about climate change?

Perhaps the leader of the council should get his own house in order first. A council that gets a D for its own performance is in no place to start lecturing the world on how to act on climate change.

Councillor Samer Bagaeen speaks for the Conservative group on climate change and the Carbon Neutral Member Working Group.

  1. oscar Reply

    They talk the talk in Brighton, but they don’t walk the walk. It’s the only Green council in the country as far as I know, but on so many counts, it’s among the least green. And being secretive with things we’ve paid for, as taxpayers, adds to the impression that things are worse than we might imagine.

  2. burnhard Reply

    Brighton is home to thousands of trendy wood-burning stoves, beloved of the middle-aged hippy types who are so worried about climate change!

  3. hetty Reply

    Don’t forget all the delivery vans for several of my holier-than-thou neighbours here off Lewes Road. They gloat about not having a car, but they all have a fleet of diesel vans bringing all manner of stuff to their door.

  4. rob shepherd Reply

    If the green leader wants to instruct the UN on how well meaning councils can have a disterous record and seek informed feedback on how to put B&HCC’s shop in order, then I applaud this, B&HCC would make a text book case history.

    However if they wont publish their D grade, i doubt they have the humility to learn from the experience of others, even when they pay (our money) for it.

  5. TP Reply

    Can’t believe you all sound surprised.

  6. val Reply

    The sheer hypocrisy of our so-called Green council is surely creating a stink that adds to pollution levels.

    They should publish the findings and stop lecturing others, at least until they put their own house in order. All that political hot air is no good for our climate!

  7. Serena Evans Reply

    And now it turns out the so called ‘greener’ LED streetlights cause light pollution and kill wildlife! You couldn’t make it up!
    Everything they do makes Green issues WORSE, not better!

    • Robert Smith Reply

      The study that shows street lights harm to wildlife, particularly moths, show that all lighting is harmful. LED marginally more so than other types of lights, such as sodium.

      However, LED saves a lot of electricity, reducing CO2e emissions.

      If you really care about wildlife, then there should be an assessment as to where we can turn off street lights at night, earlier in the evening. That would save money, save energy, reduce CO2e and be better for most wildlife.

      But if the Greens did that, then most people on here would complain about the Greens turning off all the lights, conveniently forgetting their new found love of moths.

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