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CPRE Sussex Director’s column written for West Sussex Gazette, Dec 2023

22nd December 2023

The COP28 summit in Dubai might seem a long way from West Sussex but the decisions made there have implications for us all.

This month’s summit ended with a glimmer of hope. Leaders finally addressed the elephant in the room – the need to transition away from fossil fuels and do so in a “just, orderly and equitable manner”.

It is extraordinary that this is the first global agreement to explicitly acknowledge that coal, oil and gas are the real problem despite their use being the key driver of climate breakdown.

But overall, the COP28 agreement is weak. It leaves too many loopholes open.

Most importantly, the world’s richest countries, responsible for most of the climate-changing pollution to date, have not agreed to meet their responsibilities to help fund changes in poorer nations experiencing the worst extremes of climate breakdown.

What matters next is what happens in the real world, not on paper. We need to do our bit here in the UK – and we are currently way off track on our own targets.

To use the cliche we are facing a ‘climate emergency’. We have already seen the impact of flooding and drought in Sussex.

It is critical we get off coal, oil and gas as soon as possible – and put alternatives in place.

That means, for example, insulating our homes, generating our power from wind, solar and other genuine renewables and changing how we get around with the use of more sustainable transport options.

CPRE Sussex backs an urgent move to renewable energy sources. But we have got to make sure the way we respond does not make other crises worse. We need to protect nature and respect democracy too.

That is why, while we support Rampion 2 in principle, we were intensely disappointed to have to object to elements of the plans last month.

The new offshore windfarm must work with nature and communities.

Unfortunately, we have major concerns over how the Rampion 2 public consultation has been run and the impact on landscape and nature of onshore cabling and grid connection works.

It is possible to embrace renewables while also protecting precious green spaces. For example, our rooftop solar campaign calls for the installation of solar panels on existing flat roofs and new builds.

The campaign has been well-supported since launch, and we look forward to continuing this work in 2024.

Talking of 2024, the winter solstice is almost upon us. Soon we’ll be looking ahead to brighter days – and maybe making some resolutions for the new year.

It might be to spend more time outdoors, learn more about our beautiful county or get involved in local action groups.

Our 2024 events programme will be open for booking soon so keep an eye on the CPRE Sussex website. You can also find out more about becoming a CPRE member or supporter at