Residents point the way to a carbon neutral future

As we leave 2020 behind, communities across the world are hoping for a brighter and healthier future.

In Brighton & Hove, a group of residents has been planning ahead, sharing their vision of a carbon neutral city in 2030 and how this could be achieved. 

Members of the innovative Climate Assembly have launched a series of recommendations on transport to steer the city towards its ambitious carbon neutral goal.

The assembly brought together a diverse group of 50 people from across the city to learn about climate issues, discuss them with one another, and make recommendations about what should happen and how things should change.

In the final session, assembly members wrote letters as their future selves about the transport system in Brighton & Hove in 2030. Here's a couple of quotes from their letters:

“It’s 2030, life today has changed to the better. The air is clearer and so is the pollution. No more unnecessary traffic, and more people on the streets confidently. It’s taken a lot of commitment from the people to make this change and now I thank that.

“To think where we were in 2020 and where we are now… the city feels like it is breathing again, the air cleaner and the space safer for the community, particularly children…

Measures to tackle transport-related emissions

The assembly’s suite of measures are designed to tackle transport-related carbon emissions in the city. The ten recommendations aim to increase active travel around the city and expand healthier pedestrianised areas.

The ideas are challenging and focus on the need to reduce travel by private vehicles, increase active travel, improve public transport, and the importance of engaging residents in developing and implementing any changes.

They are ranked in the assembly’s own order of priority.

  1. A car free city centre
  2. The public transport system should be affordable and accessible
  3. Creation of healthier low traffic or pedestrianised communities
  4. The council should actively consult and engage with the community
  5. Introduce mobility hubs (recognisable places connecting up different types of travel – for example cycle hire, train station, parking and transport information)  
  6. Cyclists should be prioritised over cars through well-designed dedicated cycling networks that are safe and practical for day-to-day use as well as leisure
  7. Introduce a 'park & ride' to minimise car use in the city
  8. Make public transport a more convenient alternative to driving a car
  9. Messaging should focus on what people gain rather than lose and educate or expand knowledge
  10. There should be a focus on incentives rather than sanctions as interventions

Active travel

Members of the assembly have asked the council to focus its efforts on making sure there is no need for private car use (unless someone is disabled/has a blue badge), focusing on improving alternatives and communicating those alternatives. 

They also recognise the diversity of our residents, and the need for tailored communications with a strong focus on changing mindsets through interventions, campaigns, and prioritising active travel. 

As one member commented: “You don’t need to lecture people. It’s providing them with information to enable them to see the benefits of it. Equally, there needs to be a listening to their concerns and not just dismissing them because they don’t fit in to the plan.” 

Incredibly exciting

The recommendations have been welcomed by Councillors Phélim MacCafferty and Nancy Platts, co-chairs of the Carbon Neutral 2030 working group.

Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “Today, we are extremely proud to share the feedback from the city’s first climate assembly. Given that later this year, our country hosts the next UN climate talks our timing could not be better.

"This has been an incredibly exciting piece of work, that has brought together a range of residents from all walks of life to give us their own thoughts about what we do about the climate crisis. With a whole third of our city’s toxic emissions coming from transport, residents have been clear that we must take action and support our city to make changes.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced that now more than ever we need to work together to prevent the worst of a crisis. I want to thank all members of the climate assembly for their participation, energy and feedback, particularly as the assembly had to move online. 

“The conversation certainly doesn’t start and end here – councillors will now look in more detail at the recommendations and consider them as part of transport plans already underway. We continue to welcome the thoughts and views of all residents. 

“We now have less than nine years to play our full part in bringing down toxic emissions, and the assembly has helped us keep a sharp focus on the challenges ahead.” 

Listening and learning

Councillor Platts said: “I am so proud of our city for delivering the first Climate Assembly completely online and for not letting the public health crisis stand in our way of the need to address the Climate Crisis.

“I want to thank everyone who has been part of this and who has shown such dedication to listening, learning and then distilling that mass of information into ten clear and workable recommendations.

“I am excited that we now have the basis for a plan developed through a democratic process and I look forward to being part of the team that makes Brighton & Hove a carbon neutral City by 2030.”

Taking forward the recommendations

The recommendations of the Climate Assembly will be considered by the city council as part of planned work on transport and climate change. Feedback from the assembly will help to inform to the city’s major transport and climate plans. These include the Local Transport Plan 5, the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan and the 2030 Carbon Neutral Plan.

The assembly’s recommendation for a car-free city centre is being explored as part of plans to create a 'Liveable City Centre', which is being further considered by the city’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability (ETS) Committee.

This work recognises that we should take into account everyone’s needs, allow some vehicle access and provide positive benefits for the whole city. Assembly members also wanted a focus on what is gained rather than lost – such as benefits for public health, for enjoying the outdoors and for safety.

A summary of the initial work on possible options for a Liveable City Centre and an expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone will be presented to the Environment Transport and Sustainability Committee on 19 January 2021.

Our Carbon Neutral Plan is already being developed and will have several priorities including ‘Transport and Travel.’ The findings of the assembly will help shape the carbon reduction projects included in this section of the plan. A report on the Carbon Neutral Plan will be brought to committee in March 2021. 

About the Climate Assembly

Designed and facilitated by Ipsos Mori, the Climate Assembly brought together a randomly selected diverse group of 50 people from across the city to learn about climate issues, discuss them with one another, and make recommendations about what should happen and how things should change.

Meeting for five online sessions, the assembly members focussed on transport - one of the city’s biggest sources of carbon emissions, asking: ‘How can we step up actions to reduce transport-related emissions in the city?’

Sessions included presentations and workshops, with the opportunity to hear from expert speakers and discuss the issues involved with facilitators, who made sure everyone had their voice heard.

The recommendations will be considered by members of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability and Policy & Resources Committees before being taken forward into transport plans for 2021 and the Carbon Neutral Plan.

Our city’s young people also helped facilitate a Youth Assembly, with findings from this project to be shared in the coming months.

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