With the Covid restrictions lifted, it has felt great to be able to attend events again, to mix with others and give family and friends a hug for the first time in over a year. I have however been keeping an eye on the number of new infections and whilst Eastbourne remains at the lower end of the national scale, there were over 200 new cases in the past week. This is approximately 1 in every 500 of us in the town and is twice the rate that it was just 7 days earlier. The vaccination programme has clearly made a big difference, but people are still being hospitalised, including some who have been double jabbed. It is therefore important to remember that Covid remains a killer virus despite the lifting of restrictions, so we clearly need to remain cautious.
A week ago, I wrote about my sadness at having failed to persuade East Sussex County Council to revise their carbon neutrality target down from 2050 to 2030. I make no apology for returning to this subject, as in just the past few days an alarming new United Nations report argues that global warming could make parts of the world uninhabitable. In a week that has seen fresh flooding in parts of the UK and uncontrollable fires on Greek islands, the report makes sober reading. It makes it clear that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. The analysis also makes it clear that it is our actions which have caused this situation. The report states that whatever we do, sea levels will continue to rise, which is a major concern for anyone living near to the coast. It does however offer hope that if we act now there is still an opportunity to reduce the effects of change.
Given the seriousness of the situation and the scientifically calculated predictions of the impact of climate change, you might question why politicians appear to be so reluctant to take urgent action. I believe that the answer to this is simple. To do so will be costly and will involve many unpopular decisions. But in the words of Alok Sharma, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office with responsibility for the COP26 conference later this year “the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action”. Now is the time for governments at all levels across the globe to act. I will continue to take that message to County Hall.