Six key issues Surrey County Council must address

Extinction Rebellion Surrey has responded to Surrey County Council’s Greener Future Task Group report and Call for Action. The response focuses on six key issues that must be addressed if the Council is to robustly deliver on the ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions implied by declaring a climate emergency. Read the response in full.

Extinction Rebellion Surrey’s response covers:

  1. Ambition

The deadline of 2050 for delivering a net zero carbon Surrey is by no means ambitious enough. As the wealthiest county in the UK, after London, there should be a particular onus on Surrey to get to net zero carbon as quickly as possible and certainly significantly in advance of 2050.

  1. High carbon developments

We strongly recommend that the Council makes a public commitment to oppose applications for high carbon infrastructure, such as oil and gas exploration and extraction, that will lock in significant direct or indirect greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come and calls on the Government to make clear that planning authorities have the right to reject planning applications specifically on climate change grounds.

  1. Aviation

The council should commit to emphatically opposing current and future proposals for the expansion of airports in the South East – particularly Heathrow and Gatwick.

  1. Divestment

We welcome Call for Action number 7, which reads “Work with pension funds and other investors to divest from fossil fuels and increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, low carbon transport and low carbon heat solutions.” We would welcome the inclusion of a timeframe by which the Surrey Pension Fund will be fully divested.

  1. Community energy

We consider that the Council should install solar PV to generate electricity wherever reasonably feasible on its estate, including the school estate. A number of community energy organisations in Surrey are already delivering solar PV very cost effectively

  1. A strategy that is embedded across the entire Council

It is crucial that the climate change strategy is not seen as the remit of the “environment bit” of the Council but a plan which must underlie and direct work in all departments and areas, including health, energy, finance, transport, children and family services. We recommend that this strategy be led not by an environment group but a newly constituted department, reflecting its central strategic importance.

We also recommend that the Council consider the 31 climate actions for Councils recently launched by Ashden and Friends of the Earth.  Of the 19 actions identified for County Councils, only 8 are included in the Task Group’s Call for Action.

Read the response in full