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Climate campaigners deliver a giant ‘Two years of climate fudge’ cake to County Hall, Lewes on 12 October 2021. © Katie Vandyck

Fudging the climate emergency

This week, East Sussex County Council was accused of failing to address climate crisis two years after declaring a Climate Emergency. HOT’s Erica Smith was one of many Hastings residents who donned a two-year old’s birthday party hat and took the train to Lewes to add her voice to the protest.

Students from Lewes College made their opinions clear. © Erica Smith

On Tuesday 12 October over 150 people from across East Sussex and Brighton and Hove delivered a giant ‘climate fudge’ birthday cake to County Hall as part of a mass protest demanding that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) start treating the climate emergency as an emergency. The meter-tall cake with two giant candles, carried by two people in chef’s outfits, was decorated with the words: ‘Two years of climate fudge’ and ‘ESCC: It’s time for climate action!’

Protestors walked through the streets of Lewes. “Withering Scorn” reflected their attitude to two years of climate fudge by ESCC. Photo © Erica Smith

The procession of more than 150 people stretched through the town without causing conflict. The response from passers-by was very positive. © Erica Smith

The protest was supported by those with the biggest inheritance of global warming to combat. © Erica Smith

The cake was processed through the streets of Lewes to County Hall, led by musician Dirk Campbell (star of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) playing the bagpipes. Conversely, Council Leader Keith Glazier failed to take the limelight and personally accept the cake.

The campaigners were keen to get the message across that:

  • two years after declaring a ‘climate emergency’, ESCC is still refusing to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund – a fund that covers Brighton and Hove, as well as East Sussex – from fossil fuels
  • ESCC still hasn’t endorsed the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (which would ensure that the UK plays its fair and proper role in limiting global warming to 1.5°C) and
  • ESCC appears to have done very little to reach its target of reducing the County’s carbon emissions by 13% a year a reality.

This full meeting of ESCC was the last meeting before COP26 in Glasgow. It was the perfect opportunity to announce a strategy to actively counteract climate change.

“It’s time for East Sussex County Council to finally start treating the climate emergency as an emergency.”

Arnold Simanowitz from one of the event organisers, Divest East Sussex, said: “The UN Secretary-General described the latest UN climate report as a ‘code red for humanity’, saying that it ‘must sound a death knell for fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet’. Yet two years after declaring a climate emergency, East Sussex County Council won’t even agree to stop investing in the giant fossil fuel companies, like Shell and BP, that are driving the climate crisis. It’s time for East Sussex County Council to finally start treating the climate emergency as an emergency.”

Kate Chappell (Lewes Labour) said: “With COP26 coming up in 20 days’ time, the UK’s claim to lead on climate change action is completely undermined by the actions of public bodies such as the East Sussex County Council Pension Fund who are STILL investing in fossil fuels. It beggars belief.”

“With COP26 coming up in 20 days time, the UK’s claim to lead on climate change action is completely undermined by the actions of public bodies such as the East Sussex County Council Pension Fund who are STILL investing in fossil fuels”

200 protestors outside County Hall put out a last minute appeal to ESCC.

Jane Carpenter (Lewes Climate Hub) said: “Members of Lewes Climate Hub recognise the climate and ecological emergency and our groups are working together on many initiatives to address the threats to our area. Our elected county councillors need to lead on this and take action now.”

“ESCC must do its part in reducing its emissions to net zero, starting now. Targets without active plans risk all our futures.”
Mark Engineer (XR Lewes)

Wendy Maples (Lewes Green Party) said: ‘We’ve seen green wash claims and pre-election promises. But action hasn’t followed, or it’s been half-hearted. ESCC have acknowledged there’s a climate crisis, but fossil fuels are still part of the pension portfolio. ESCC say we have to address the ecological emergency, but plans to create a dual A27 are keenly pursued. Green Party councillors say: Divest. I’ve seconded the motion to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill since we need to act like our house is on fire: because it is.’

Tuesday’s demonstration outside County Hall was followed by a protest at Hastings Borough Council meeting outside Muriel Matters House this evening (Wednesday 13 October), led by XR Hastings. It is clear that whilst there is general acknowledgment that global warming is advancing rapidly, the powers in charge of our future are happy to ‘declare a climate emergency’ yet have taken no positive actions to combat global warming.

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Posted 21:28 Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021 In: Campaigns

2 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Erica Smith

    Thank you for the update, Steve. Would you like to write a follow-up article for HOT? We would love more people to write articles.

    Comment by Erica Smith — Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 @ 22:49

  2. Stewart Rayment

    But what of the excitement within the council chamber? The Greens had tabled a motion on COP26, but the Tories sprang a ‘delete all and insert’ anodyne amendment, adjourning the meeting for twenty minutes for the other parties to consider. Obviously a trap. The Liberal Democrats met with the Greens and agreed tactics, then (I think) Johnny Denis, the co-leader of the Green councillors and David Tutt, the leader of the Lib Dem councillors, addressed the demonstration. The Greens motion was lost by 23 votes to 27, and since a motion on COP26 was better than none, the amendment was carried with two abstentions (the original proposer & seconder). Both votes were recorded. This is anecdotal from Steve Murphy, the Lib Dem councillor for Hailsham, so apologies for any imperfections.

    Comment by Stewart Rayment — Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 @ 21:46

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