6 January 2021

Positive actions to address the climate crisis

During 2020 the council continued its work to address the climate and biodiversity emergencies alongside focusing resources on responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
Through plans, policies and actions, we are working with city partners to improve infrastructure, provide low energy homes, create easy access for all to low emission transport, open up places for nature, highlight climate issues and reduce waste. 
 
Our vision is for a city that is carbon neutral by 2030, with clean air, improved biodiversity and a climate-friendly economy. 

Looking back

Here are some highlights of the council’s work in 2020.
 
In January we joined Nature 2020 to help raise awareness and connect people to  local biodiversity, while Jubilee Library hosted informal ‘climate conversations’ under a chandelier made from 4,000 bottle tops.
 
We started our journey to explore a low traffic, liveable city centre and agreed to rewild Waterhall golf course.
 
Work began on reducing the environmental impact of events and a proposal for a low carbon heating system at a seniors housing scheme in Patcham.
 
During February our access travel team won funding to continue providing sustainable travel opportunities to residents, employees and visitors and the second electric taxi hit the streets as new rapid charging hubs for taxis were installed.
 
Plans began to take shape for the city’s first climate assembly
 
Spring ushered in good news for wildlife with special ‘swift bricks’ being incorporated into new developments. An updated study included in the City Plan Part 2 identified 51 local wildlife sites.

City Plan Part 2, agreed in April, included a range of policies to support the city in reducing emissions, enhancing biodiversity and becoming carbon neutral.

In May, we were awarded government funding for new electric cargo bikes and in June the city’s Bikeshare scheme recorded its millionth journey.

Summer heralded plans to put solar panels on 500 council homes

The Royal Pavilion & Museums started a climate conversations blog in June and in July Brighton Museum launched its first online gallery dedicated to highlighting plastic in the oceans. A rainbow arch of 2,000 drink cans helped spread the recycling message on the seafront in August.

We published data to show how positive action is helping to improve air quality and joined the Greater Brighton region in signing 10 pledges to help tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

Installations of carbon reducing street lights continued along with low energy floodlights in Hove Park.

More than 200 electric vehicle charging points were completed at the end of summer.

The city’s climate assembly met for the first of five sessions in September, which also saw the start of school streets, a new solar panel savings scheme for residents and the completion of phases one and two of the Valley Gardens transport corridor and central park.

More opportunities for people to get involved came on stream in October, with Communities Fund grants for community-led projects to help reduce carbon and a new online platform for residents to join the climate conversation.

From November residents were invited to contribute to the long-term vision for the council’s rural estate and protect the city’s downland.

A new service started that enables residents to donate electrical goods for re-use and upcycling. Further funding was awarded for safe, accessible and environmentally-friendly travel measures.

We marked the end of the year by publishing the presentations and materials from the climate assembly and how the city became the first in the UK to win a Gold Sustainable Food Places award.

Looking forward

In their final discussion, the climate assembly’s members reflected that they wanted the council to:

  • Enable people to imagine the future and be inspired
  • Plan for long-term solutions, not quick fixes; start small and do it properly, then show it being done effectively so people are keen for it to be done in their area too
  • Build a sense of community and shared identity around positive action to address emissions in Brighton & Hove

Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: 

“During an incredibly difficult year, it has been inspiring to see the commitment and outstanding positive approach taken by residents with the climate assembly. 

“In 2021 the climate crisis will be front and centre of all our decision-making. In 2020 we prioritised building low energy council homes, rewilding a golf course, planting meadows in Valley Gardens and becoming the country’s most sustainable city for food. But we have lots of work we still need to do to address the climate and biodiversity emergency.

“We will take the necessary actions to play our part, together reducing emissions and creating a safer, cleaner and fairer place for all our citizens.”

The Climate Assembly’s recommendations will be published on 11 January and taken forward by the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee on 19 January, followed by the Policy & Resources Committee on 21 January. 

A carbon neutral plan for the city will be published in the spring.

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