At a Full Council that was unfortunately cut short on 21 October, when asked about how the Green administration and the Council were measuring climate transition risks and mitigating their impacts on the residents of the city, the Leader of the Council mounted an attack on factual claims the Council scored a D in the 2020 Carbon Disclosure Project submission.
He did not answer the question and explain what mitigation (if any) was taking place. Perhaps he needs to respond in writing as the relevance of this will become clearer if you read on.
Responsibility and risk
While the Greens generally do not like taking responsibility for anything, they have pledged to residents that Brighton and Hove will transition to being carbon neutral by 2030 and must be judged on how they are performing in relation to that promise.
The assumption in the Council that the transition is about central Government legislation alone is misplaced. The Council cannot expect the centre to offer the funds to local government and at the same time continue to hold the risk, to relieve the Greens of the burden of responsibility.
Whoever takes climate action will end up with a lot of transition risk to manage and mitigate. For example, we will still need to produce electric cars if we manage to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius tomorrow.
So, how this council measures transition risks and how will it manage the impact of these transition risks on the city’s residents is important.
Benchmarking the Greens’ performance
The Carbon Disclosure Project, the CPD, works with cities to motivate them to disclose their impacts on the environment and natural resources and take action to reduce negative impacts. CDP uses a scoring methodology to incentivise cities to measure and manage environmental impacts through participation in a Cities program.
The CDP recognises and reward the highest scoring cities and there are 4 scoring bands that cities can fall into: Disclosure (D); Awareness (C); Management (B); and Leadership (A).
In order to progress from one level to the next, cities must pass the threshold at each scoring band. For example, in order to achieve a score within Awareness (C or C-) a city must receive enough points within Disclosure in order to pass the Disclosure threshold first, before receiving a score in Awareness. Brighton and Hove’s submission did not pass the Disclosure threshold in 2020 and therefore achieved only a D, the grade.
Cities, like Brighton and Hove, who submitted a response to the full Cities 2019 Questionnaire will have received all of the following:
- One overall letter score indicating the overall level of climate disclosure and performance as assessed by the information provided in the response; We know Brighton and Hove received a D.
- One Adaptation letter score indicating the level of climate disclosure and performance as assessed by the information provided in the response to questions falling under Adaptation; We do not know what the Brighton and Hove score was.
- One Mitigation letter score indicating the level of climate disclosure and performance as assessed by the information provided in the response to questions falling under Mitigation. This is an important score because it tells us what action the Council is taking to mitigate the impact of climate action on residents e.g. the impact of the seafront cycle lane on disabled groups. We do not know what the Brighton and Hove score was in this case.
An explanation of the characteristics of the Disclosure band on the CDP’s website says the following:
A city in the Disclosure scoring band has just started the journey of understanding and reporting on climate impacts. These cities understand the value of collecting data to drive climate action but may not have structures or resources in place to obtain the necessary information.
This is a damning indictment on where the Administration has failed, but it also presents an opportunity for more clarity moving forward.
The Council’s D grade is a key indication that its current ‘structure’ – the Carbon Neutral Members Working Group, which disperses responsibility and accountability - is not working and needs to be revisited.