The fight against climate change using cutting edge technologies that reduce carbon emissions is the urgent priority of the new leader of Greater Brighton.
Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty said he would use all his energies backing the City Region to become a leading player in blue/green investment opportunities developing programmes that promote alternative sources of energy and conservation.
“Let’s be clear. On the same day the country sees record-breaking temperatures it’s clearer than ever that we have to do everything to stop the climate crisis. There’s no question there are short-term difficulties facing our economy but we have never more needed actions to pave the way to carbon net zero, embracing new technology and new ways of working.” he said.
Cllr Mac Cafferty, who is also the leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, was elected as chair by other members of the Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB), which oversees the City Region.
He took office as Greater Brighton unveiled a new brand and website aimed at helping to raise the region’s profile and attract inward investment and job opportunities.
The City Region stretches from Brighton, north to Crawley, west to Bognor and east across to Seaford and consists of seven local authorities as well as businesses and education providers, including two globally recognised universities, legally constituted to protect and grow the economy.
Climate change initiatives it is backing include an ambitious series of pledges on the environment called the GB10 which cover issues such as decarbonisation of homes, increasing Electric Vehicle charging networks, recycling water to homes and converting vehicle fleets to zero emissions.
In addition Hydrogen Sussex, a Greater Brighton organisation which links local authorities, universities and green energy companies, is promoting the use of the clean fuel in a number of areas including the production of the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired clay bricks.
Cllr Mac Cafferty said: “I’m honoured to be leading the Region at this critical time. We are doing everything we can to attract funding from the government’s Levelling Up funding to grow and secure jobs, opportunities and apprenticeships. The south east is only one of two English regional economies that contribute back to the Treasury but wealth isn’t shared equally across the region and there remains much to do where deprivation and skill shortages need to be tackled.
“I firmly believe we are at our best when we come together to share best practice from seven local councils, to mobilise the intellectual capital of a college and two universities, alongside the frontline experience of two business partnerships and a national park.”
He said Greater Brighton, a organisation which has seven local authorities, business partnership, two leading universities and the South Downs National Park as members, had since its formation in 2014 “seized the opportunity to show leadership and a collaborative approach to tackling the key challenges facing the city region. We have shown we can deliver and will continue to do so.”
On the cost-of-living crisis he insisted that continuing with programmes which look at the sustainability of energy and food could help. Greater Brighton is currently developing a food strategy which is aimed to tackle both the rising cost of food and its carbon footprint.
“Across the region, we have residents who need supporting through the cost of living crisis. This includes the ‘just about managing’ – frozen out of benefit eligibility, living payday to payday, and for whom any change in spending will spell danger.” he told members of GBEB shortly after being elected, “It has become urgent and we must act now. Not only with regard to food, but with our wider net zero plans, as delivering on our energy and water plans will also make energy and water more affordable for residents.”
Cllr Mac Cafferty also said the creative industries would continue to be supported under his chairmanship. They were vital to the regional economy and had been identified by the Government as crucial to the Levelling Up agenda. A strategy to promote growth and opportunities across the region. “It’s essential that we move ahead at pace with this work,” he said.
Cllr Mac Cafferty said he would be working hard to convince the Government that, with financial support, Greater Brighton could lead the way in developing a carbon zero economy that would bring investment and jobs to the region as well as bringing forward technologies that could benefit the entire country.
The new website which includes all of the climate change programmes sponsored by the Greater Brighton City Region can be found here https://greaterbrighton.com