Climate emergency declared in Crawley

A climate change protest outside County Hall earlier this year
A climate change protest outside County Hall earlier this year

‘Every single one of us as individuals must treat this as a priority’ was the message from Crawley Borough Council as it became the latest West Sussex authority to declare a climate emergency.

Following hot on the heels of Adur and Worthing, members put politics aside and pledged unanimously to cut the council’s carbon emissions by at least 45 per cent by 2030 and to zero by 2050.

At a town hall meeting on Wednesday evening (July 17) members of the public applauded the decision but asked for the ‘zero’ time frame to be brought forward to 2030.

While understanding the frustration that things were not moving quicker, leader Peter Lamb said: “I don’t want to ever promise to do something that we’re not going to deliver.”

He was backed up by opposition leader Duncan Crow, who said the council ‘should not set goals that we have to abandon later down the line’.

Mr Crow added: “Britain led the world in the industrial revolution and it’s right that we lead the world in sorting out the mess that we helped to create.”

As well as the pledge on emissions, the climate emergency will see the council call on the government for more powers and resources to make the targets possible, work with other authorities to determine the best ways of delivering on the targets, and set up a scrutiny panel to explore recommendations.

It will also carry out a review of its investments to ensure they include renewable and sustainable power sources rather than fossil fuels, and will encourage Crawley residents to commit to the West Sussex County Council Climate Pledge.

Geraint Thomas (Lab, Ifield), who tabled the call for the emergency to be declared, said: “I would like to think that many people in Crawley – especially perhaps those with children and grandchildren, and the currently unenfranchised under 18s – would be supportive towards a climate emergency motion, and it would strengthen our claims to be currently environmentally responsible and even more so in the near future.”

Gurinder Jhans (Lab, Northgate & West Green) who used to be a pupil of Mr Thomas when he taught geography, said: “The next 11 years will be the most important in our fight against climate change.

“Every single one of us as individuals must treat this as a priority and look to see how we can reduce our own carbon footprints. This is something that will affect everyone on the planet.

“Let’s not waste any time and begin treating this as the emergency it is.”