What does it mean to be carbon neutral?

In order to become carbon neutral the city must reduce as much climate-damaging carbon emissions as possible that come from our actions as individuals, organisations, industry, agriculture and business.

We will offset any remaining carbon emissions that we cannot eliminate. The city will be carbon neutral when the city produces zero net carbon, taking into account any offsetting activities.

“More than a wake-up call, this is an emergency. Most now know that we have just 10 years to limit the catastrophic effects of global warming and stop temperatures exceeding 1.5c. At 2c we face a complete climate breakdown."
- Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty

Working with you to achieve a shared goal

We will do everything we can to get to zero emissions by 2030.

It’s an ambitious target but as one of the first councils in the country to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency, we believe we should be leading the way to support the city’s residents, visitors and those who work here to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the whole city as close to zero as possible.

We're already seeing the consequences of climate change in our city and around the world. Together we can make a difference if we act now.

As a creative, caring and environmentally aware city working together and supporting each other, we can have a much bigger impact. We will be able to turn ideas into practical steps, make changes as individuals and organisations to reduce carbon emissions and put in place long-term solutions to safeguard the planet for the next generation.

Carbon Neutral 2030 programme

We have created a programme of works to reduce carbon emissions across the Brighton & Hove and become a carbon neutral city by 2030.

This will help residents, visitors and businesses play their part and get the benefits of reaching the 2030 target.

This includes an improved and healthier environment for everyone and reducing the impacts of the climate and biodiversity emergency.

2030 Carbon Neutral Programme Annual Report 2021 to 2022

View or download our 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme Annual Report 2021 to 2022.

Why 2030?

Ten reasons we have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030.

To protect our communities 

Extreme weather is already affecting people across the world, caused by warming temperatures as a result of carbon emissions. These include unprecedented flooding across East Africa and wildfires in Australia.

2022 was the hottest year on record in the UK, while torrential rainfall has led to repeated flooding for many communities in recent years. We all need to work together across the city to take action and help to prevent climate change. Read more about the effects of climate change

To protect nature

The State of Nature 2019 report revealed that 15% of all wildlife in the UK is now threatened with extinction, butterflies have declined by 16% since the 1970s and 40 million birds have disappeared from the UK’s skies in the last half-century.

Many of the world’s threatened species live in areas that will be severely affected by climate change. 

In 2020 the RSPB urged us to wake up to a new era for nature and launched a campaign to draw attention to the worsening crisis for wildlife.

To reduce uncontrolled temperature rise

By taking strong and vigorous action now, we will help stabilise the temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C (in line with the Paris Agreement). If we don’t act quickly, temperatures will rise much higher. The risk of rising sea levels associated with a temperature increase of up to 4°C would be disastrous for coastal communities in some parts of the world.

To protect our health

Climate change has been labelled as the greatest threat to health in the 21st century, with a range of conditions related to heat, cold, extreme weather and air pollution predicted to rise. A recent study in Brighton & Hove identified air pollution from transport as a contributory cause of more than 50 deaths a year in the city.

To protect water supplies and quality

By 2050 dry summers could result in up to 80% less water in some of the UK’s rivers and reservoirs, especially in the South East which already suffers from water stress.

Longer periods of drought could affect the quality and amount of groundwater supplies available to the city. 100% of Brighton & Hove residents’ drinking water comes from the Brighton Chalk Block (aquifer) so it is vital we protect and improve the groundwater in this valuable natural resource. The UK water sector is aiming for net zero emissions by 2030.

We’re working with South Downs National Park, Southern Water and the Environment Agency to protect the precious water beneath our feet.

The Aquifer Partnership (TAP) aims to tackle the threat from pollution, a growing population and modern lifestyles to ensure our groundwater remains a sustainable resource for the future.

To reduce the harmful effects of plastic

Plastic is everywhere – from packaging to construction, car parts to objects around the home. In 2019, a report by the Center for International Environmental Law estimated the greenhouse gas footprint of plastic for the first time.

Documentaries have highlighted the devastating effect of plastic waste in the sea and on marine wildlife. It contributes to the biodiversity emergency by creating hazards for wildlife and contaminating their food supply.

It is also estimated that if the production of plastic continues at current levels, the emissions from the lifecycle of plastic will threaten attempts to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. 

To prevent food shortages

The UN has warned that as of now, more than 500 million people live in areas affected by erosion linked to climate change. It has called on all countries to commit to sustainable land use to help limit emissions before it is too late.

Some areas of Brighton & Hove already suffer from muddy flooding, dumping eroded soil from the South Downs onto roads and drainage systems in the city. Shifting weather patterns and unpredictable water supplies affect agriculture and the ability to grow enough crops for food. 

To ensure our future prosperity

In December 2019, the head of the Bank of England urged the financial sector to act now to curb investment in fossil fuels.

He said that the combined policies of all the investment companies are consistent with warming of 3.7°C to 3.8°C.

By changing how money is invested and harnessing innovation, businesses and industry can transform to a low carbon, zero waste economy, re-use resources and provide environmental solutions that will create new jobs. 

To protect our ecosystems

Global warming is already drastically affecting insect numbers as their habitats are wiped out, with pollinators like bees particularly affected.

If climate change can be limited to a temperature rise of 1.5°C, the losses will be far lower. Insects are vital to most ecosystems, and pollination, fertile soils and clean water all depend on these healthy ecosystems. 

To create a sustainable world for the next generation

If we do not act now on the climate emergency, it will be the next generation who will face the ongoing effects of extreme weather, poverty and pollution.

Imagine how this will affect the lives of our children, grandchildren and all the children we know. 

Young people in the city realise we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to halt the effects of climate change which is why in Brighton & Hove we have set a more ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. 

View our Carbon Neutral 2030 programme