The COP26 East Hants took place at the Maltings, Alton on Friday 8 October, hosted by Damian Hinds MP and EHDC.
Lord Deben, Chair of the UKs Climate Change Committee, opened the East Hampshire Community COP 26 event with an inspiring speech urging us to be proud of our national targets and our cross-party support for change but highlighted that we now must move to action. “What we must look for now is that that is turned into action, and government, local government, parish councils and individuals do their bit in order to make sure that the world is rescued.” He called for climate-consistent policymaking and regretted that the government scrapped plans for higher building standards in 2015, with the result that more than a million houses have since been built that will need retrofitting.
He mentioned how gardeners might have noticed that spring comes 17 days earlier than it did in the 1960s with the alarming consequence that blossoms come out before the pollinators; no wonder there is a decline in biodiversity. He finished with a powerful reflection on our duty to the world: “It is the very most exciting moment to live because this is the moment when human beings know that they could destroy their world, but they also know how they can save their world. What a responsibility, but also, what a remarkable challenge. Thank you so much for stepping up to that challenge”.
East Hampshire District Council
Gill Kneller, Chief Executive of East Hampshire District Council, said that EHDC declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019 and has since bought two electric vehicles, switched its energy supply (to a REGO-backed green tariff), and committed a reserve of £300,000 to spend on environmental initiatives. She promised a big announcement soon about actions it would like to take in future. She also said the council was looking forward to hearing the recommendations from the Action Groups and how they can work with the community to take them forward.
Hampshire County Council
We heard Hampshire County Councils executive member for Climate Change, Councillor Jan Warwick, who told the audience about the Council's climate targets and progress so far.
HCC's first annual report on climate change was presented this month and sets out what has been achieved since HCC's climate change strategy was approved in July 2020. The report details HCC's climate change budget, the introduction of mandatory Decision Tools, the work of the Climate Change Board, the new staff e-learning and the new climate change procurement guidance, significant work taking place in programmes on Residential, Transport, Energy Generation & Distribution, Natural Environment, Waste & Circular Economy, Buildings & Infrastructure and Business & Green Economy, an Update on progress with the implementation of the Action Plan, which includes more than 200 actions, with case studies and programmes to reduce emissions and build resilience in each department, as well as an update on emissions reporting.
Next year the council’s theme will be the year of resilience. The county council is planning to give guidance and support to Hampshire communities to become safer, more resilient and better prepared for extreme weather events.
The audience heard from young people from local schools about what their schools are doing to address the issue from eco clubs, recycling initiatives and art projects highlighting plastic waste, to installing solar PV and achieving the eco-schools green flag award. We also heard a powerful speech from Lillie Ewins who spoke on behalf of Young ACAN, she urged us to “make use of whatever power you have for the ones who haven’t got any at all.”
In the lead up to the COP event, PeCAN experts participated in working groups with the event organiser focussed on land and agriculture, transport and buildings, alongside colleagues from Alton Climate Action Network and other organisations. At the event each working group presented their recommendations to the council, you can read the full reports here. We now urge East Hampshire District Council and our MP, Damian Hinds, to take the recommendations in the report and turn them into action. Here are some of the recommendations from the reports.
You can read the full Transport report here, some of the recommendations included are to
- enforce existing speed limits and consider further reductions, as an immediate way to reduce transport emissions
- support the switch to non-fossil fuel vehicles through taxation changes.
- make retrofitting cheaper
- use planning to make construction greener
- local authorities to help retrofit community buildings.
- give Local Authorities a statutory duty to act on climate change to bring the necessary urgency and responsibility
- adopt the environmentally aware landscape policies of the SDNPA planning framework
- maximise the ability of land to act as a carbon sink.