Adur’s Green councillor calls for climate change to be treated as more of an emergency

Adur’s first ever Green councillor has called for climate change to be treated as more of an emergency in the midst of recent extreme weather events.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 3:59 pm
Gabe Crisp was elected as the Green Party's first ever Adur district councillor back in May

Gabe Crisp (Green, St Nicolas) submitted a declaratory motion – one that is not expected to require any substantive action or expenditure – to the full council on Thursday (July 22).

The motion called on ADC to recognise that there is a climate emergency and to act accordingly.

It reads: “Many local authorities are playing an important role in the UK taking action to achieve net zero carbon emissions, and to protect and revitalise local wildlife and natural habitats.

“99 per cent of carbon emissions in Adur are not under the direct control of ADC, but ADC has a key role in leading the way by example, trialling new technologies and publicising its work to raise awareness of what is possible locally.”

Ms Crisp also asked councillors to take note of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which was proposed by Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas and is currently awaiting a second reading in Parliament.

If passed, the bill would require the Prime Minister to declare a climate and ecological emergency and take appropriate action. This could include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, restoring and protecting biodiverse habitats as well as establishing and consulting a citizens’ assembly on the climate and ecological emergency.

Ms Crisp emphasised that this national bill was highly relevant to Adur and that the council ‘has a responsibility to the people who live in our area’.

She believes that Adur is ‘genuinely leading the way’ with climate initiatives such as the Sussex Bay Marine Park and kelp forest, bike share schemes and electric vehicle charging points.

However, Ms Crisp called for more to be done, saying: “Are we treating this as an emergency? I don’t think we are yet.

“I don’t think we’ve individually made the emotional connection.”

She noted that ‘people elsewhere are suffering’, saying: “People just like us in Canadian provinces, in America, who have a high standard of living and a good quality of life, have been living in conditions of a 49 plus, 50 degrees Celsius heat dome.

“People in Poland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have been flooded.

“Just yesterday I heard about the Chinese city where the water flooded into the underground system.

“What if that jet stream wobble hadn’t affected Canada and America? What if it affected us?

“What if the flooding that happened in Europe had just been 100 miles or 200 mile further over to the west? That would have been us, we’d all be underwater now and we wouldn’t be having this meeting.

“We have to treat it as an emergency.”

She asked that the council take action to reduce its environmental impact across its buildings, operations and travel – aspects that it has ‘direct control of’. But she also tasked the council to use ‘carrots and sticks’ to influence procurement and other operations where it has the power to do so.

She said: “We have to treat every decision as though we could have been under that jet stream.”

This was also highlighted by Catherine Arnold (Lab, St Mary’s) who said: “If we don’t tackle supply chains collectively in terms of carbon neutrality and offsetting then we will never achieve globally what we need to achieve.”

Adur & Worthing Councils declared a climate emergency in July 2019 with a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030. The work that the authority has done since then was praised by Steve Neocleous (Con, Churchill) who said: “I think that some of what Adur District [Council] has done so far has been quite ground breaking. 

“Whilst I would certainly not condone any complacency, I think that some of the initiatives that have been referred to should be applauded.”

Jeremy Gardner (Lab, St Mary’s) also praised current environmental initiatives being put forward by ADC but he said that the authority ‘can do better’ and ‘can’t meet the challenge on its own’.

Ms Crisp’s motion was unanimously accepted by councillors.