As our council has launched its Circular Economy Route Map and Action Plan, it feels like a good time to give an update on our work towards becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2030.
Under Labour’s administration, we were one of the first councils to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency and got to work setting up a carbon-neutral programme, inviting the other political parties to work together towards a carbon net zero future.
We set up the city’s first ever climate assembly, and a cross-party working group, which we offered the Greens (in opposition then) the co-chair role of.
We initiated our programme immediately – and we’ve been busy.
We installed hundreds of electric vehicle (EV) charging points across the city to incentivise people to give up high-emission car travel.
We extended the BTN Bike Share scheme, closed roads to vehicles and introduced more cycle lanes, paths and infrastructure to encourage active travel.
We developed the Local Transport Plan, the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan to encourage active travel, the Air Quality Action Plan and the Quality Bus Partnership to drive down fares, simplify ticketing, improve services, electrify the fleet of buses and enhance the Ultra-Low Emission Zone.
We installed hundreds of solar panels on council properties, rolled out e-cargo bikes, electrified council vehicles, introduced school streets, pledged to deliver a car-free city centre and a park and ride in line with the recommendations of the climate assembly, and upgraded street lighting with LED fixtures which has helped us see a two thirds reduction in carbon emissions from lighting the city.
Even from opposition, while working cross-party to deliver the carbon-neutral programme, we have pushed the Green administration further and held their feet to the fire when they’ve been unwilling to deliver on the climate assembly’s findings.
This has included identifying funds to roll out 20-minute neighbourhood schemes, to introduce park and ride and improve bus services, to introduce a 20mph city, EV car share clubs, a carbon reduction incentive scheme for residents and more.
It not easy to change our ways of travel and in Labour we certainly recognise that we don’t want to ask residents – particularly those further from the city centre, the disabled, the elderly and families – to leave their cars at home more often unless we can provide efficient and low-cost public transport as well as cycle lanes. After all, this in line with what residents agreed at the climate assembly.
Councillor John Allcock is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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