World Environment Day is an international day of environmental awareness and action that happens on 5th June each year.
Started in 1974 by the United Nations, World Environment Day has raised awareness on the problems facing our environment such as air pollution, plastic pollution and sustainable consumption, among others.
This year’s theme is Ecosystem Restoration. This will be the first year of the United Nation’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration; a ten-year project aimed at fixing the damage that has been done to our planet.
To celebrate World Environment Day, Labour welcomes the launch of the city’s first Carbon Neutral Programme and recognises the urgent need to tackle the climate emergency here in Brighton and Hove.
Councillor Gary Wilkinson, Labour spokesperson for the Environment, Transport and Sustainability says:
“The last year has been extremely challenging for us all but while we were busy tackling the pandemic, the climate emergency hasn’t gone away. Global warming has not paused for lockdown, and saving the planet we live on cannot wait for quieter times. We must act now.
“As lockdown ends, there can be no going back to normal, because normal wasn’t working. We don’t need a ‘recovery’ that takes us back to how things were, but a transformation towards how things should be. In a world with increasingly global problems, local action is more important than ever, which is why the City Climate Assembly that Labour set up will be so important.
“As a council we were among the first to declare a climate emergency. The Carbon Neutral Programme will help the city address the climate crisis and transition to carbon neutrality by 2030. It will be a huge step in progressing the work done to date and will set the direction for the council to fulfil its ambition to become a carbon neutral city.
“Let us be in no doubt, we must take action now. Climate change is an urgent issue and we are already taking a leading role, challenging ourselves and others to take steps towards becoming carbon neutral”
Councillor Nancy Platts, co-chair of the carbon neutral 2030 working group said: “I am delighted to welcome the carbon neutral programme and the range of projects that are planned across all sectors in the city.
“The people of Brighton & Hove are already demonstrating a strong feeling of community and pride in the local environment – through planting trees, picking up litter and protecting our sea life and wildlife.
“It is these qualities that we need to champion to be successful in our ambitions for a carbon neutral city by 2030, with a role for everyone to play.
Brighton & Hove declared a biodiversity emergency in 2018 and we must take urgent action now to reverse the decline in our wildlife and loss of natural habitats if we are to help restore our ecosystem. We have to work together to stop pollution of our land and seas and reinstate the conditions that will encourage back the diversity of plants, trees and wildlife that are disappearing before our eyes.
This year we are losing far greater numbers of elms than normal. If we do not bring the disease back under control, it could lead to the loss of most of the city’s elms.
The council has committed to Labour’s pledge of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and to get there we must increase the number of trees in the city. It is up to us to preserve as many of them as possible for future generations to come.
Our natural environment provides a wide variety of important functions and contributes to the health and quality of life of residents, workers and visitors to the city. The wildflower rich banks of butterflies, bees and other pollinators are helping form part of the councils response to the biodiversity and climate emergencies and support our objective to become a carbon neutral city by the year 2030.
It was Labour that first introduced electric charging points across the city and we are pushing the council to expand its electric vehicle infrastructure, including 200 new on-street charging points. We also oversaw the rewilding of the hugely successful Valley Gardens project.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, it’s been tremendous to see families getting outdoors together, in their local areas, and when able, exercising with friends. People are talking about what they’ve seen in their local area or done in their gardens
What’s been gained in the last twelve months could become the new norm for the next twelve years and more, if we hold onto what we’ve gained. Making space for and living with nature is possible; it’s been great to see and hear people recognising the benefits for their mental health and wellbeing; taking more exercise and enjoying the wildlife within the built environment.
Global ecosystem restoration may be perceived to be far away: the forest, the peat bog, the ocean, the river, the mountain, but our connection to all this nature starts with us, in our cities, with the products we buy, the choices we make, the way we live our lives.
World Environment Day is a reminder that we must take good care of our surroundings.
We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.
Let us make a promise to make our planet a greener and healthier place for us to all live and enjoy life!