As COP 27 begins, what’s happening locally to help save our beautiful little planet from doom?
Well, Horsham District Council held a Climate Action Day on 20th October to help prepare the parish councillors for what lies ahead for all of us.
Two thirds of the 32 parish councils in HD were represented, with 11 parishes not attending. So what progress has been made?
The excellent preparation we were sent (MPs’ climate briefing in July 2022) set the tone so there was no mistaking the severity and urgency of the crises of climate, nature and economy. They are worldwide and interlinked, so we are urged to think global, act local.
Everything is interconnected:- our physical and mental health, our lack of feeling heard, our reliance on fossil fuels, and the expectation that we can have endless cheap imports of food and products many of which we don’t really need or just use once for fun…a moment’s fun costing finite resources.
Of course, there is a vital need to protect wildlife and our irreplaceable eco-diverse green spaces. An old tree can’t be replaced by a new tree any more than an experienced CEO can be replaced by a toddler. Waterways are particularly important for all life, including us humans, obviously!
Happily, a flagship project that Sussex Wildlife Trust and HDC are working on together is a unique partnership in the UK and other districts are watching it keenly. Wildlife corridors are being created, and as Dr Whitbread, president of the SWT is fond of saying, they need to be bigger, better and more connected. SWT will be holding a training event for volunteers next February on how to survey your local area.
Insulation and Energy Saving
It was recommended that we lobby central government for better laws around insulating new buildings. Providing better public transport and cycling routes was also discussed.
At home, we can introduce smart meters so we can see where our highest electricity use occurs and use yellowish outdoor lights rather than blue-white to be more insect-friendly.
We were told communication is key. The Horsham Green Film Festival aimed at engaging the public in exactly this sort of conversation. On the evening before our Climate Action Day, we held a brief impromptu People’s Assembly of 25 people and the following day, I was delighted to note that all the issues that residents had raised were touched on during our training. The public are very much able to make workable suggestions when they are engaged in the process, feeling real connection with decisions being made locally.
Ideas suggested include the proposal that the villages each host one February Eco Film with speakers and participation from the attendees: a District Spring Film Festival.
Rumour has it that our chair of Council, Cllr Kate Rowbottom, will show her support for joined-up climate action thinking by wearing a chain of office made of recycled ring-pulls to officiate the next HDC meeting on 14th December.
Now that’s progress…purposeful fun!
New projects can apply for funding from HDC but unfortunately successful climate outreach projects such as Sussex Green Living cannot, so if you’re able to support, we’d love to employ an outreach trainee.
If you want to know more, watch the Chief Scientist brief to UK MPs from July.
By Morag Warrack
This article first appeared in the West Sussex County Times