Support from all sectors at borough's first Climate Emergency conference
19 February 2020Delegates from the public, private and voluntary sectors attended a conference at Chester Zoo last Friday (14 February) to discuss the Climate Emergency and what can be done in west Cheshire to address it.
The West Cheshire Action on Climate Change conference was organised as a partnership event bringing together experts from a range of industries, community groups and government departments to encourage support and enthusiasm for a borough-wide pledge to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2045 or earlier.
The day opened with a powerful message from children and young people across the borough who shared their thoughts, via a video, about the Climate Emergency. They discussed what it means to them and made suggestions about ways the borough can collectively tackle the causes of it.
The Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Councillor Louise Gittins, provided details about the Council’s response to the Climate Emergency challenge and environmental consultants, Anthesis, gave an overview of the research they undertook in west Cheshire. This research included details about the level of ambition required in the area to meet the Paris Climate Agreement, a global commitment, by 195 countries and the European Union, to aim to keep global warming to well below 2°C.
There were talks from industry leaders who are at the forefront of innovation in the low-carbon energy sector. They shared details about new technologies being developed in the area which will be central to achieving carbon reductions across the industrial base in the borough, which currently uses around five per cent of the UK’s energy.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of the Council said: “This event was organised to ensure that key partners, organisations and community groups across the borough are aware of the scale of the Climate Emergency challenge we are facing in our borough. It was a great opportunity to share best practice, create new networks and for organisations across all sectors to commit to taking action to address this global issue at a local level.”
Councillor Matt Bryan, the Leader’s Champion for the Climate Emergency said: “As a Council we have committed to becoming carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030 and, after the event on Friday, I feel hopeful that as a borough we can all work together to make the west Cheshire carbon neutral by 2045 or earlier. There are already lots of great projects across the borough that are taking action to help tackle this issue and I hope that, by sharing some of these projects at the conference, it will spur more people and organisations on to make a change today.”
During the afternoon, five breakout sessions gave delegates the opportunity to share their thoughts on different topics such as empowering communities, how the NHS can take action to tackle the Climate Emergency and reshaping land management for climate and nature recovery.
Dr Simon Dowell from Chester Zoo, which hosted the event, spoke about how our individual actions and behaviour at a local level can impact global threats to climate and biodiversity. He said: “Almost everyone will be required to take some form of action to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. Yet for many it can all seem overwhelming, leading to inertia and inaction. The challenge is finding ways that will galvanise individuals and communities at the scale required to effect widespread change. Our successful sustainable palm oil campaign, which made Chester the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City, shows what can be achieved when schools, businesses, organisations and individuals are inspired to unite to make a difference for the planet. This is exactly what needs to be done if we are to reduce carbon emissions and prevent extinction.”
The information gathered from the event will be reviewed by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Climate Emergency Taskforce which is developing a Climate Emergency Response Plan which is due to be presented to Council in December 2020.
Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Dr Simon Dowell, from Chester Zoo, and Cllr Matt Bryan, the Leader's Champion for the Climate Emergency, at the event