It’s up to us to ‘do the right thing’

Last week Sir David Attenborough spoke at the UN Climate Change Summit in Katowice as the representative of the world’s people and warned that climate change is the greatest threat to humanity and could lead to the collapse of civilisations.

Four former presidents of the annual UN climate talks warned the ‘world is at a crossroads’ and decisive action in the next two years would be crucial to tackle the threat of climate change.

It is very easy to feel completely overwhelmed by the challenges we face to combat climate breakdown but many of the changes we need to make as a society would in fact lead to a healthier and more fulfilling life. Limiting Global Warming to 1.5oC may still be possible with ambitious action from national, regional and local authorities, civil society, the private sector, and local communities.

Places like Bristol, Manchester and Stroud have already committed to a goal of being zero carbon towns and cities by 2030. We need to do the same here in Hastings. We are asking everybody to sign an open letter supporting the council to declare a climate emergency and to convene a citizens’ assembly to generate local ideas for combating climate breakdown. We need to devise a path to achieving community-wide carbon-neutrality by 2030.

You can also ask a question at the next full council meeting on December 19th at 6pm related to what you think the council could be doing now in helping Hastings move towards a net zero carbon economy. Email your question to CBarkshire-Jones@hastings.gov.uk by December 12th – that’s Wednesday. Your answer will be read out at the council meeting. You will also have a chance to ask a related follow up question.

In the mean time here are some ideas about what we could do locally.

Use less stuff

Lots of us try and recycle but how about all those gadgets like toasters, kettles or phones that we chuck away because we don’t know how to repair them? What about running local repair events where people teach each other how to repair their broken stuff? Or setting up a ‘Library of Things’ so you can borrow drills, carpet cleaners or even a guitar instead of having to buy your own?

There are so many great ideas out there we just need to get together as a community and see what we can do to stop being such a throw away society.

Support community owned renewable energy

You can take part in Hastings’ first ever community energy share offer which will fund 250  kilowatts of  solar – the largest solar roof so far in the 1066 region – on  the  roof  of  the  Ore  campus  of  East  Sussex  Coast  College. 

The  college  will  not  have  to  pay  for  the  panels,  which  will  be  gifted  to  them  after  25 years  when  the  project  ends.  Local  investors  will  earn  a  five per cent  return  (dividend)  on  their  shares. The minimum investment is £300. If that is too much why not get together with family and friends and buy a share together and play your part in making Hastings a solar town.

In the near future community owned solar roofs will be able to be networked into a smart grid so everyone can benefit from cheaper, locally owned and generated clean energy.  To find out how to invest go to 1066 Local Energy https://brightonenergy.org.uk/1066-local-energy/

Call for energy efficient housing in safe walking and cycling neighbourhoods.

The local plan will be revised next year and needs to include a commitment to the internationally recognised Passivhaus Zero Carbon standards on all houses built on council owned land. Average energy bills in a house built to Passivhaus standards are under £100 per year. This would reduce carbon emissions, save energy and keep money that would go to energy companies circulating in our local economy instead.

Reducing car use and promoting walking, cycling and sustainable transport should be at the centre of future plans for the town.

Set Carbon Budgets

In February the council looks at its budget for the year. Why don’t we commit to a council carbon budget each year as part of the the annual budget- setting process. This could set a standard for us to explore how we could develop a town-wide approach to setting a carbon budget.

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s only MP and former party leader, has been calling on the government to create a Select Committee on Climate Change to scrutinise every government department and chart a course out of this crisis. We need to do the same at local government level and establish a permanent Carbon Scrutiny Committee of members, with the remit to recommend actions and challenging targets across the council’s activities.

Central government is utterly abdicating its responsibility to urgently address climate change. It’s up to us now to do the right thing for the future.

19_Julia_Hilton_3x4
Julia Hilton is secretary of Hastings Green Party.

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