Although we have known about the science of climate change for more than quarter of century, action has been far too slow. In 2018, the year of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the UK, the Committee on Climate Change gave a strong message that more needs to be done.
Before the Covid 19 lockdown, many local councils had declared a climate emergency. Many were in various stages of producing action plans for their own activity or for areas where they had a responsibility or role to play.
Dealing with Covid-19, which has had a huge impact on human society, does not mean that the threat posed by global warming has gone away. Rather it has brought into stark realisation that we have to do more to protect our society.
Local councils can use their powers and play a leadership role. However, there are many areas not within their direct control. They cannot tackle climate change alone, they have to work with partners, including local community groups if there is to be meaningful change. Everyone has to work together. There has to be commitment and ownership of the challenge.
The big challenges we face as residents are in transport, home heating, and the waste we produce. Of the UK’s emissions, 40% comes from households. Transport is responsible for 34% and home heating responsible for 21% of a UK household’s carbon footprint.
Poorly insulated homes waste energy, lead to high carbon emissions and to unnecessarily high-energy bills for residents. Fuel poverty, where people find it too expensive to heat their homes adequately can lead to health problems. Yet there are solutions available.
It is not all negative. There are benefits and co-benefits to be achieved by taking climate action across all sectors of the community, and this is where organisations such as the WI can play a part. We can all say what we want for our communities, help and support each other with some of the difficult decisions, provide information and say when there are benefits. In addition, we can all give the message to our councils when we want more done.