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A Magazine for Sheffield

Sheffield Climate Report - August: August

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Following pressure from the international school strike movement, Extinction Rebellion and other long-established campaign groups such as Sheffield Climate Alliance, Sheffield City Council declared a 'Climate Emergency' on 6 February. Since then, commitments have been made to ensure that the city is zero-carbon by 2030 and a report from the Tyndall Centre has warned cuts in emissions must average 14% a year if Sheffield is to make a fair contribution to global efforts.

National government followed suit with a motion declaring an 'environment and climate emergency' passing on 1 May. The Climate Change Act has since been amended to target net zero carbon emissions by 2050, rather than just an 80% reduction based on 1990 levels.

What does a climate emergency response entail? Presumably lots of proactive measures to make our cities greener, landscapes wilder, energy sources cleaner, expand public transport and prevent harmful waste. But I can't presume to know. Nobody quite knows what a 'climate emergency' response entails, so this regular report will look back on recent happenings to try and figure it out.

12 August

Leeds Climate Commission announces that it has begun the recruitment process for the city's Citizens' Jury on climate breakdown. In short, a citizens' jury involves bringing ordinary people together for a few days, with subject matter experts presenting them with different options. The people are then left to decide what they think the fairest or most desirable way to cut emissions in their city would be. They make recommendations and it's up to the city council if they want to implement what the people have decided. Sheffield City Council have promised something similar for later on this year.

23 August

International outcry as the Amazon burns, with indigenous people set to be slaughtered. The G7 countries offer Brazil £16 million to help. For context, that is less than what Sheffield United paid Swansea City for Ollie McBurnie this summer or about half the cost of France hosting the summit. Beyond gesture politics, Macron threatened to veto an EU-Brazil trade deal and Bolsonaro seemed to change his tune. The future of climate politics?

25 August

Hottest late August bank holiday on record. A pint of Kronenbourg, packet of crisps and existential dread.

25 August

Cllr Lewis Dagnall resigns from his position as Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change as part of an ongoing row over the It's Our City! petition, which proposes changing from a 'strong leader' model to a committee system for decision-making.

26 August

As the hottest August bank holiday weekend draws to a close, Cuadrilla's fracking site in Lancashire is hit by the biggest tremor on record. The Oil and Gas Authority orders all activity to be suspended. The future of the industry seems to depend on the outcome of the next general election, although it's worth noting that the public is overwhelmingly opposed and even many grassroots Conservatives oppose the activity when it impacts them locally.

26 August

Sheffield City Council's consultation on whether dimming street lights at night time to save energy is a good idea gets underway. While the need for public consent and planning for any safety impacts is obvious, a full six months after the declaration of a climate emergency, it is rather grating that this appears to be one of very few proactive measures taken to reduce emissions.

29 August

Mark Jones takes over the position as Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change from Lewis Dagnall. He mentions a citizens' jury, the need for cross-party working and public transport in his interview with the Sheffield Star. Fine words I am sure we can all agree.

30 August

There are reports that some international financial institutions and businesses are now pressuring Brazil's Bolsanoro to stop the destruction of the Amazon by threatening boycotts and investment freezes. Quite remarkable to watch business leaders who don't work in logging or agribusiness express such disapproval of their fellow industrialists. Another notable conflict between businesses who think on very different timescales.


30 August

After a year-long trial period, Micklegate Bar in York is made permanently one way. With support from local residents and businesses seeing a boost there is even discussion of closing the street to traffic all together.

31 August

Extinction Rebellion's Northern Rebellion begins in Manchester, inadvertently causing a groundswell of support for the site of their occupation (Deansgate) to be pedestrianised.

In the last month not an awful lot seems to have happened locally. Perhaps people are away enjoying their summer holidays, perhaps master plans are afoot, perhaps everything will be fine, or perhaps we will look back on the uneventful summer of 2019 with fondness. Platitudes aplenty, but walking through Sheffield on a day-to-day basis there is nothing to indicate we are in an emergency.

If you would like a little less conversation and a lot more action, please check out Sheffield Climate Alliance's series of upcoming events here or come along to Extinction Rebellion's weekly meetings at Union St Cafe - food from 6pm with the meeting starting at 6:45pm. Let's enjoy the ride together.

Jake Helliwell

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