Hove MP Peter Kyle joined councillors and about 150 local people for a community meeting about practical responses to climate change on Thursday evening (10 November).
They met at Holy Cross church hall, in Poet’s Corner, for presentations about the “climate and nature emergency” and discussion aimed at answering the question: “What can we do in our community?”
The event was organised by a small team including researcher and content strategist Tamsin Bishton.
And several small businesses from the area were represented, including Timeless Toys, in Portland Road, and Harriet’s of Hove, in Blatchington Road.
Katie Eberstein, the Brighton and Hove environmental education officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “Give young people skills, knowledge and an attitude to tackle climate change.”
The former teacher, who runs the website Our City Our World, works with about half the schools in Brighton and Hove and added: “Adapt the curriculum to discuss climate change. Equip schools to make their structure carbon neutral.”
She said that being in nature inspired young people and said that young people and families should be empowered to take action both individually and collectively.
Katie works with half the schools in Brighton and Hove. She said 97 percent want climate education in schools. Being in nature inspires young people. Katie encouraged parents and pupils to talk to their schools and tell them what they want, tell them that sustainability matters.
Charlie Peverett from Birdsong Academy is a naturalist who has been identifying birds by their song for thirty years. During the pandemic, he founded ‘Up with the birds’ which is a dawn chorus shared on zoom. In Spring 2020 did the birds get louder? He said people had more time to notice what’s around them. He shares the sounds of live birdsong on zoom with the help of crowd funding.
He asked: “Why are birds so hard to find these days? It’s a moment of truth.” Birdsong academy and the dawn chorus are free. He also produces a weekly newsletter from January to June and he runs a ten week online course as well as walking workshops at Stanmer Park. He said: “Tune into what’s already here. It’s essential to the work that we need to do.”
Councillor Elaine Hills is a Green Party member for Hanover and Elm Grove who sits on the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee. She said we have a target of being carbon neutral in Brighton and hove by 2030.
She said: “We have 200 electric charging points in Brighton and Hove, we reduce, repair and reuse, we recycle. We protect promote and prioritise. But we are facing a biodiversity emergency and extreme weather. We have a circular economy programme. As a city we will move away from wasteful ways of doing things. We have a food partnership project and foodbanks. As a council, we will make more sustainable choices.”
Paul Loman runs the ‘Real Junk Food Project’ that intercepts food before it is sent to landfill or incinerated to help tackle climate change. He said: “One third of food production goes to waste. Many people don’t have enough food. Food is sent to landfill which produces methane and is worse than carbon dioxide. Supermarkets waste food, they take it off the shelves and send it to incinerators or landfill.
“We rescue food and feed people. We have relationships with supermarkets and we go through the front door. We take the food to Bevendean, log it, and send it to pay as you feel cafes at St Luke’s in Hove and Fitzherbert’s in Kemptown. We take donations. One third of food is wasted, cook wisely, freeze, grow food, compost.”
Michael Kennard disrupts food waste and composts it. He said: “There is lots of food waste, tonnes of food in landfill, 600 kilos of carbon, if you compost it, you end up with 9 kilos. We have a market garden and run the Compost Club. Compost is a beautiful life cycle.”
Circular economy to help tackle climate change
Harriet Dean-Orange runs Harriet’s of Hove on Blatchington Road with her husband, Mhiran. The shop is free from single use plastics and provides refills of pasta, lentils and other dry foods. She used to be a nurse and found there was a great disparity between work and home. Customers bring in their own containers and buy by weight. You can buy Daal for £1. She said she is selling behaviour change: “By shopping at Harriet’s of Hove, you are using ethical and sustainable wholesalers. Re-sterilisation. No new plastic. Recycling.”
Susan Luxford owns ‘Timeless toys’ on Portland Road. She said: “Toys are rarely mentioned when discussing climate change. Toys come in unwanted plastic and break easily. Toys are the most intensive plastic industry, 90 percent are unrecyclable. BHF found 1 in 3 parents admit to throwing away toys in the UK every year. They end up in landfill or the ocean. 58 London buses of toys end up in the sea every year. There are toy rental schemes. She asked: Is our legacy to our children, to bury toys we are actually buying for them?”
Tim Beecher from BHESCO, the energy cooperative, reduces the environmental impact of buildings. He was inspired by the natural world to tackle climate change. Twenty four percent of carbon emissions come from our homes. He said we need to: “rescue the street, terraced housing by putting in external wall insulation. We will reduce the cost individually if we come together as a community. Cooperate and collaborate. You can invest in BHESCO and buy shares which will fund renewable energy.”
Councillor Carmen Appich is leader of labour group and sits on the social care and health and wellbeing committees. She said Brighton and Hove has a local walking and cycling plan which is out for consultation at the moment. People should use public transport. She has introduced rounded street corners on Portland Road, there will be a car share project, starting in Hanover with two cars in Westbourne Ward next summer. Then there is the ‘Mini Holland scheme.’ Additional pedestrian crossings, crocodile crossings, school streets, bike share hubs or car hubs. She said the council needs to know what people actually want so get in touch.
Sarah Forbes has been blogging about reducing plastic waste since 2020. She has been helping people feel safer to cycle in the city. She welcomed the Old Shoreham Rd cycle lane. She has a neurological condition which has not stopped her enjoying cycling. Sometimes she uses an E bike. She is a member of Bricycles.
Tamsin Bishton was the organiser of the event. She has lived in Poet’s Corner for 18 years, her children went to Goldstone Primary School and Hove Park. She said her step Grandad fought for something in the war and we need to protect it for the next generation.
Kate and Marianna were at the event representing Extinction rebellion. Marianna spoke, she has a fifteen year old son who sleeps in a bunk bed because he is terrified of the sea level rising. She said: “We are facing a climate and ecological emergency. She mentioned the sister organisation, animal rebellion protecting methane gas. She said becoming vegan was the best thing she has done. And there is money rebellion. East Sussex County Council have divested their pension fund from fossil fuels. Between 14-19 Nov we are targeting Barclays bank. There is a march on Saturday at 12 noon.
Hove MP, Peter Kyle was the last speaker of the evening and he gave a summary of what was happening in Parliament to tackle climate change. He is Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and a Labour MP.
He said: “I have been actively involved with students since 2021. I have also been talking to Southern Water about the sewage dumped on our beaches. My emphasis is on what they have done, billions poured down the drain. We need water back in the reservoirs.
He said: “We have reached a plateau with food waste and recycling. We need to do much more: green waste and composting. There is an Environment bill. It will impose regulations on every Local Authority. We can’t upgrade the Hollingbury recycling depot until the regulations are published in March. I have frustrations on behalf of our community. All 3 MPs, created a road map for ourselves with different levers to help the council. We all visited Hollingbury and the incinerator in Newhaven.
“I do drive, I choose not to have a car. There was lots of resistance to the Rampion offshore windfarm. Urban areas are not connected to where power comes from and where waste goes to. We need to grow up. We are connected to power now. Labour pledge we will have clean energy in Brighton and Hove by 2030… We need to double the off shore wind farms by 2030. Labour proposes a multi-year green fund to recapitalise our economy. Carbon reduction.”
Question and Answer
How sustainable are the prices of public transport? It costs our family of three £15 on the bus and £5 in the car. Ms Appich said: “There are costs to running a car. We bid for money, we were awarded £27m, we have a private bus company with shareholders. There is no national will to fund transport properly. Government doesn’t want to run the bus company, they don’t trust us, they have taken away a lot of money.”
One member of the audience said civil disobedience is important to the freedom movement. Mr Kyle said: “Protest is incredibly important and it has to be legal. Keir Starmer agreed with harsher penalties. I am a gay person, all gay people protest and it’s legal. Do it within the law. Change the law.”
Mr Kyle said: “There is a problem with the new bill. We don’t support the new bill. Certain protests are so counter-productive. (For example, Extinction rebellion.) We don’t support disrupting ambulances. Suella Braverman’s chinook was in breach of the noise regulations in her law when she visited Manston.”
Another member of the audience asked the last question. She lives in Benfield Valley. There are 12 garages near Portslade. She asked: “Why don’t you knock them down and build there rather than on Greenfield sites?” Councillor Appich said the council needed to include some green field sites in the city plan. Nothing will be built without planning applications. Councillors can reject them. Whitehawk Hill. We needed to fulfil the requirement of the planning body.”
Mr Kyle said: “We need green growth, greenhouse emissions fell by 20%, we have more wind turbines than any other country. We are about to enter a recession. High intensity energy, steel, we need clean steel. We have to get the economy moving, buses, public services and the city needs investment, smart investment.”
A shortened version of this article was first published today in Brighton and Hove News.