From: Andrew Durling
Joint co-ordinator, Eastbourne and District Friends of the Earth
Eastbourne Borough Council unanimously adopted a Climate Emergency motion at full council on July 10, committing the council to deliver a carbon neutral town by 2030.
So the priority now is to formulate an effective local climate action plan and to implement it without delay. The main challenge is to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the town’s energy system, as these emissions are the main driver of rapid climate change.
According to the latest science, if Eastbourne is to do its fair share of helping to keep global warming within the 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade range set by the United Nations Paris Agreement, the town’s remaining carbon budget for the period 2020 to 2100 is only 2.1 million tons of CO2.
At the present rate of CO2 emissions within the town (about 300,000 tones per year), that budget will be exhausted by 2027! To make the budget stretch to 2100, there has to be an average reduction of emissions within the town of 12 per cent per year, starting from now.
Friends of the Earth has analysed all the official data available on Eastbourne’s carbon footprint and come up with some recommendations for what could go into such a plan. Upgrading 2,929 homes per year will ensure all homes are properly insulated by 2030, lifting as many people as possible out of fuel poverty.
In Eastbourne only 13 per cent of people commute by public transport, three per cent cycle, and 16 per cent walk. In the best performing similar local authority area, the proportions are 27 per cent, 12 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. The town should have a target of 70 per cent of people commuting by public transport, cycling and walking by 2030.
Currently the Eastbourne area has 5MW of renewable power. If the Eastbourne area matched the best of similar local authority areas it would have 33MW. Trees play an important role in sucking CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon. They also provide a home for nature, clean up air pollution and reduce flood risk.
Only five per cent of the Eastbourne area has tree cover. The town should aim to increase tree cover to 20 per cent. Eastbourne currently reuses, recycles and composts 39 per cent of its household waste. All local authorities should aim to achieve zero waste by 2030.
Eastbourne Borough Council is a member of the East Sussex County Council Pension Fund, which invests £145 million in the giant oil and gas companies that are driving the climate crisis.
We call upon the county council to stop investing in fossil fuels and we urge all Eastbourne county councillors to support the divestment motion put forward for debate at County Hall on October 15.
We also urge all Eastbourne borough and county councillors to withdraw support from new high carbon infrastructure such as the proposed A27 offline dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate, and the proposed expansion of Gatwick Airport.
We stand ready to help locally by doing our best to facilitate the deep cross-community collaboration that is needed between local councils, local businesses, and local community groups in order to ensure that a carbon neutral town is delivered by 2030.
To that end we have been helping to establish the Eastbourne Eco Action Network, a new Community Interest Company that intends to work in partnership with Eastbourne Borough Council to develop the cross-community collaboration needed.