County Council accused of declaring climate crisis as an emergency but failing to act on it after two years.

Tuesday 12th October, 9.30am, County Hall: Campaigners from across East Sussex, Brighton and Hove will deliver a giant ‘climate fudge’ anniversary cake to County Hall tomorrow, as part of a mass protest demanding that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) start treating the climate emergency as an emergency. The metre-tall cake with two giant candles, carried by two people in chef’s outfits, will be decorated with the words: ‘Two years of climate fudge’ and ‘ESCC: It’s time for climate action!’  The cake will be processed through the streets of Lewes to County Hall, leaving Lewes station at 9am. Council Leader Keith Glazier has been invited to personally accept delivery.

Greta Thunberg, County Hall, Lewes 2020

Campaigners point to the facts that two years after declaring a ‘climate emergency’, ESCC is still refusing to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund (which covers Brighton and Hove, as well as East Sussex) from fossil fuels, still hasn’t endorsed the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill (which would ensure that the UK plays its fair and proper role in limiting global warming to 1.5°C) and appears to have done very little to make its ‘target’ of reducing the County’s carbon emissions by 13% per year a reality.

The Council’s 12th October meeting will be its last meeting before this year’s historic climate summit in Glasgow.

Tomorrow’s protest is being organised by Divest East Sussex, XR Lewes and Lewes Climate Hub, with support from a wide range of organisations, including Lewes District Green Party, Lewes Labour Party, Brighton Energy Coop, Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth, Energise Sussex Coast, Frack Free Sussex, Hanover Action, Lewes Liberal Democrats, Plastic Free Seaford, Seaford Environmental Alliance, South East Climate Alliance, Transition Town Hastings, Transition Town Lewes, XR Brighton, and XR Hastings & St Leonards.

Arnold Simanowitz (Divest East Sussex) says: “The UN Secretary-General described the latest UN climate report as a ‘code red for humanity’, saying that it ‘must sound a death knell for fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.’ Yet two years after declaring a climate emergency, East Sussex County Council won’t even agree to stop investing in the giant fossil fuel companies, like Shell and BP, that are driving the climate crisis. It’s time for East Sussex County Council to finally start treating the climate emergency as an emergency.”

Kate Chappell (Lewes Labour) says: “With COP26 coming up in 20 days’ time, the UK’s claim to lead on climate change action is completely undermined by the actions of public bodies, such as the East Sussex Pension Fund, that are STILL investing in fossil fuels. It beggars belief.”

Jane Carpenter (Lewes Climate Hub) says: “Members of Lewes Climate Hub recognise the climate and ecological emergency, and our groups are working together on many initiatives to address the threats to our area. Our elected county councillors need to lead on this and take action now.“

Mark Engineer (XR Lewes) says: “ESCC must do its part in reducing its emissions to net zero, starting now. Targets without active plans risk all our futures.”

Wendy Maples (Lewes Green Party) says: “We’ve seen greenwash claims and pre-election promises. But action hasn’t followed, or it’s been half-hearted. ESCC have acknowledged there’s a climate crisis, but fossil fuels are still part of the pension portfolio. ESCC say we have to address the ecological emergency, but plans to create a dual A27 are keenly pursued. Green Party councillors say: Divest. I’ve seconded the motion to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill since we need to act like our house is on fire: because it is.”

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