The rise in the public consciousness of climate change in 2019 was evidenced by the Collins word of the year, Climate Strike. Figures such as Greta Thunberg and India Logan-Riley have familiarised climate change amongst young people all over the world and drawn attention to the action needed to combat climate change both locally and nationally.
NALC responded to this appeal by organising a climate change panel session and declaring a climate emergency at its Annual Conference in October 2019. NALC is proud that lots of local (parish and town) councils are declaring a climate emergency and is working to encourage others to do the same.
NALC believes that, collectively, across 10,000 local councils, we can tackle climate change locally and create more climate-friendly communities.
WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE?
Climate change refers to the long term shift in earth's weather patterns and average temperatures. For the past 250 years, humans have contributed to the increased release of carbon dioxide, alongside other greenhouse gases, which causes an increase in global temperatures.
Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, produces energy while releasing greenhouse gases. The long-term challenge is how we address this build-up of greenhouse gases and ensure a clean future for future generations. For example, according to the MET Office, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose by 40% during the 20th and 21st century and is now over 400ppm (parts per million). This level of carbon dioxide is higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years.
CLIMATE CHANGE CASE STUDIES
The Climate change case studies publication is for local councils and county associations to use as an example of work that can be carried out in their communities. These are all examples of best practise and demonstrate actions to tackle climate change locally.
The publication is divided into various topics; biodiversity, carbon off-setting and reduction, climate change forums, community projects, designing greener housing, electric charging points, energy and heating, environmental improvement, flood assistance, green travel, plastic reduction and trees and tree management. It is designed to incorporate all areas of climate change.
WHAT CAN YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL DO?
- Declare a climate emergency
- Create a task force to establish a green agenda that includes developing a resilience policy and engaging in flood defence measures
- Sign up to the Woodland Trust’s Tree Charter and develop a tree maintenance programme
- Develop and promote green transport plans including safe routes to school
- Ensure that all council buildings are as energy-efficient as possible and that energy is not wasted through unnecessary heating and lighting
- Use green energy sources and environmentally friendly products
- Plan for a green community in a neighbourhood plan
- Limit the use of plastics, especially single-use plastics in your council
- Reduce waste and recycle as much as possible
- Protect important open spaces and carbon sinks and consider creating a community orchard and/or wildflower meadow and/or allotments
- Look at the existing powers of councils regarding climate change — find out more