As our climate changes, extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent and severe. This has the potential to cause disruption to the economy and our ability to deliver our services. By 2050 in West Sussex we expect to see warmer, wetter winters, and hotter, drier summers, with an increase in storm events bringing flooding and damage.
Such conditions are likely to result in challenges, such as heat stress, heat-related deaths, water shortages and rising sea levels. However, they may also offer opportunities, such as an increase in tourism to the area and the chance to develop new agricultural practices suited to warmer conditions.
There are two main actions we will take to deal with climate change.
- Reduce carbon emissions from the County Council’s operations and services (mitigation).
- Strengthening the resilience of our services and local communities to extreme weather (adaptation). This means not only protecting against negative impacts, but also enabling us to take advantage of any benefits.
In 2011, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 50% by 2022. By 2018/19 we had achieved a 46% reduction in our carbon emissions from our original baseline. Our annual sustainability report shows how we achieved this.
In February 2019, Full Council passed a motion pledging to try to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The County Council approved a climate change strategy in July 2020, which is aligned with our ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030. This work contributes to the wider national commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to strengthen the UK’s preparedness for climate change.
Strengthening the resilience of our services helps us understand the risks and opportunities and what needs to be done. We promote Operation Watershed with more than £3 million since 2013 to support local communities in reducing the risk of localised surface and groundwater flooding.
Our What If? programme also trains and empowers local communities to prepare, respond and recover from extreme events, and to adapt to adversity.
We can all take action to reduce the impact of climate change by: