Getting our heads together on climate action: If not now, when?As 2020 rolls in, the climate clock is ticking. We are now a mere 10 years away from the 2030 deadline by which the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change tells us that global carbon emissions have to be radically cut if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Here in Steyning, concern over the climate has never been higher. The Climate Strike that closed the High Street in September and the packed audience for the climate hustings debate in November both underlined this.
Worries about the climate and the wider biodiversity crisis cuts across all age groups, from the dynamic Eco Councils springing up in our local schools to the Eco Church ideas taking root in our churches.
Climate change features prominently in the draft Neighbourhood Plan, and in December the Parish Council declared a ‘Climate Emergency’.
It feels like we have reached a tipping point on climate awareness. But what happens next in terms of action?
What should we be doing as individuals to cut back on our carbon footprints, and what should we be doing as a community to make Steyning a ‘Climate Smart’ community and move towards a ‘Zero Carbon Steyning’.
At the individual level, perhaps you’ve already made some New Year’s resolutions. By now, most of us probably know what actions will make the biggest difference. We just have to get around to doing them. For example:
• Insulating our homes much better:
This has to be the place to start (less than a third of Steyning properties have EPC ratings of C or better).
• Cutting back on flying:
Make it one round trip a year rather than two or three.
• Eating less meat and dairy:
It’s getting easier every day as healthy and tasty alternatives emerge.
• Cutting down on driving:
Getting on our bikes, walking more, and giving public transport a try, rather than the default of hopping in the car.
And there’s many more small steps we can all take to cut our carbon footprints, plenty of which save money and bring health and other benefits too.
Individual action is vital, but what can we do as a community, too? That way there’s a sense we are in it together and it becomes easier to make the right choices. This is going to be the focus for a special ‘Climate Action’ meeting on January 28th convened by Greening Steyning.
The meeting marks the 10th anniversary of the Group. We will be looking back to celebrate all that’s been achieved over the last decade. But the main aim will but look ahead and have a rethink of where to focus our efforts in future.
Seeing where people’s enthusiasm lies will be central to this, since it’s volunteer power that’s going to underpin whatever actions we agree on.
We are particularly keen to welcome new faces to the meeting, those of you with ideas to chip in, and with some energy and time to help make things happen.
We’ll be asking questions like:
• How can we boost the amount of renewable energy we generate in Steyning?
Is there scope for any community energy schemes?
• What can we do to improve public transport or introduce car or lift sharing?
Could we team up with neighbouring towns and villages on this?
• How can we make ‘shopping local’ a more attractive and sustainable option?
• How do we go to the next stage in cutting down on plastics?
Pushing the message of 'refuse, reduce and reuse' rather than just loading more in the recycling bin?
• What can we do to make Steyning more climate resilient and boost biodiversity.
There are already plans afoot for a tree planting project in the Abbey Road area. What else can we think of?
• What projects can we champion with the local councils, businesses and the wider community?
• What ideas and initiatives have you seen elsewhere that we could try in Steyning?
We want to come up with some priorities on where to concentrate over the next few years, gauge how much people power we can rely on to deliver on these ideas, and agree some next steps to get things moving.
It’s a huge agenda.
But the point is if we don’t get started, we won’t make a dent in Steyning's environmental footprint by 2030.
Put another way, if not now, when?
The Climate Action Meeting will be on:
Tuesday 28th January at Steyning Football Club, starting at 19:30.
Further details are on the website at: www.1010steyning.org
Do come along!