Congratulations and thanks to everyone who came along to Chichester today, and who lobbied their County Council members to back the climate emergency motion.  It worked!  Though many of us were disappointed that the original motion was amended, and the climate emergency was ‘noted’ rather than ‘declared’, the Council took a big step today.  It looks like WSCC is serious about getting its act together on climate change. After the meeting SECA was invited to take part in a new working group being set up to take this agenda forward. So the omens are looking good that today could be a turning point.

Here’s the text of our press release:

PRESS RELEASE:  Climate action motion passed unanimously by County Council

Campaigners hailed today as a potential ‘tipping point’ in West Sussex, as the County Council agreed unanimously to back an amended motion pledging action on climate change.

In a rare display of cross-party consensus, councillors from across the political spectrum took turns to underline the risks posed by climate change and need for decisive leadership by the County Council. Speaking in front of a packed public gallery, councillors called for action on cycle paths, electric charging points, food waste collection, public transport, air quality, and a range of other priorities.

The six point action plan set out in the motion includes a pledge for the Council to go carbon neutral by 2030, well ahead of UK-wide climate targets. It also sets out ambitions to ‘investigate ways of taking climate change impacts into account in all the Council’s policies and operations’.

The debate was preceded by a lively but good-natured march by over 140 climate campaigners and concerned citizens of all ages, from toddlers to grandparents. The march ended on the steps of County Hall, giving protesters the chance to buttonhole their council representatives as they came in to the meeting. Councillors had already been lobbied by many of their constituents to back the vote, thanks to a county-wide letter writing campaign organised by the South East Climate Alliance (SECA).

Protesters making their voice heard outside County Hall

“We are taking today’s vote as a definite win for the climate,” said Dr Sally Barnard, Coordinator of SECA. “We were greatly encouraged by the breadth of support across the council chamber for stronger climate action”.

However, campaigners were disappointed that the amended motion states that the Council ‘notes the call for a campaign to declare a climate emergency’, rather than actually declaring an emergency, as the original motion proposed.

“It all depends on what happens next,” according to Dr Barnard. “If the Council follows up on the pledges it has made today, this could be a tipping point for climate action in West Sussex”.

“We are ready to work with the Council in coming up with an ambitious action plan, and in helping hold them to account in delivering on it”

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