Changing to a net zero carbon society with the help of buses driven by hydrogen and restored kelp beds off the coast is the subject of an important conference taking place next week.

The Greater Brighton City Region is organising the climate change conference to showcase work already going on in the area but also to highlight the challenges ahead. It can be viewed live on YouTube on Tuesday October 12th 2021 from 9:30am.

Called Transitioning to Net Carbon Zero it has attracted a host of climate change experts and comes ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in which world leaders will gather in Glasgow on October 31 to accelerate their goals on actions to halt climate change.

Speakers at the Greater Brighton conference will include the team behind ambitious plans to create a Sussex Bay marine park driven by the restoration of the kelp forest off the coast from Selsey to Brighton and possibly further.

Coastal kelp beds help combat climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce coastal erosion by absorbing wave energy and provide a haven for wildlife.

Other speakers will include representatives from Shoreham Port and pioneering engineering firm Ricardo discussing plans to use clean hydrogen to replace fossil fuels seeking to place Greater Brighton as a centre for innovation in the field. Brighton and Hove Buses will also explain its project to power its vehicles by the fuel source.

International speakers will include Andrea Durbin, Sustainability Chief at the City of Portland, Oregon on the US Pacific Coast who will talk about the city wide inclusive projects to tackle climate change the city has adopted.

Durbin will explain how last year’s climate change-driven wildfires, the worst in history, and this year’s record temperatures which killed 11 people in the city are driving the need for tough action and fast.

Representatives from Brighton & Hove City Council and the Universities of Sussex and Brighton will also tell the audience how they are developing plans to bring millions of pounds of investment into the region to fund climate change tackling measures and create sustainable jobs at the same time.

Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, Cllr Phelim MacCafferty, who is also Greater Brighton City Region’s environment lead, said the need for the conference was imperative.

“This conference is about how from Bognor Regis to Lewes, from Brighton and Hove to Crawley we can take positive action across the Greater Brighton region to avert climate chaos,” he said, “Both here and afar the recent energy crisis and weather storms are seeing significant environmental challenges for our region. This day will detail practical steps we’re taking to ensure we don’t walk into yet more serious climate disaster. Yes it’s about protecting residents and business, but it’s also about innovation and positive change- because we need action as fast as possible.

“We are already working on a number of detailed programmes to reduce carbon emissions, such as game-changing hydrogen fuel technology, the restoration of the kelp farm off the coast, insulating homes to be more efficient, establishing a network of Electric Vehicle charging points and rewilding many areas of natural beauty.

“But there is much more to be done and I want our region to be at the forefront. This conference is crucial as it brings together many of the partners – in both public and private sectors – we need to reduce the lasting impact on our emissions. Councils and residents cannot do this alone – we need everyone to play a part.

“I’d encourage residents living in the Greater Brighton area to join the debate and watch the conference if they can. We need you to hold us to account on this important issue and also feel that you can play your part no matter how small it might feel.”

Last year Greater Brighton launched the GB10, a series of ten pledges on the environment with a pledge to update progress every year.

Tune in to watch Greater Brighton's Virtual Climate Conference on October 12th 2021
Kelp - Copyright Big Wave Productions
Kelp – Copyright Big Wave Productions