Climate change working party formed in Glemsford after parish council makes emergency declaration
A fresh climate emergency declaration has prompted calls for other towns and villages in Suffolk to follow suit, to encourage action “at a grassroots level” to combat climate change.
Glemsford Parish Council approved the formation of a working party on Tuesday night, after declaring a climate emergency last month, following a local campaign led by the village’s Women’s Institute (WI).
Similar declarations have been made at district and county council level this year, with both authorities pledging to make Suffolk carbon neutral by 2030.
But Glemsford WI president Lesli Tunbridge, who will chair the village’s new working party, said meeting this target would require individuals to make significant lifestyle changes, particularly around reducing emissions from transport and domestic heating.
She told the Free Press her plea to the parish council came from “a few lightbulb moments” from hearing speeches by naturist Sir David Attenborough and teenage activist Greta Thunberg, and from attending the Climate Coalition’s Time Is Now lobby of Parliament in June.
“I feel that we need to start at a grassroots level,” said Lesli, who also represents 57 WI branches in west Suffolk as a climate ambassador. “We have to think about our carbon footprint.
“A lot of people have no idea what they should do, so starting a working group means we can have a hub of support for the village. It’s about setting targets and finding ways to involve and advise the community on the climate emergency.
“It has to be little things, but I think it’s all about improving the community’s environmental awareness and encouraging people to take more ownership of their local environment. It’s our lifestyles and our mistreatment of the environment that’s causing the problem.
“Many of us, including myself, are really worried about the future of our children and grandchildren, and this is the key driving force.”
Lesli suggested measures to address the climate crisis could include less driving and flying and more public transport, cycling and walking, consuming more plant-based foods and fewer meats and dairy, and improving levels of recycling and re-use.
She added that she believes it is vital that the Government provides greater power and resources to local authorities, in order to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy in homes.
To support the campaign, Glemsford WI will be planting a new grove of trees in the village to help sequester carbon emissions, coinciding with the branch’s 100th anniversary in 2021.
Stephen Plumb, chairman of Glemsford Parish Council, confirmed the authority hopes to meet the new working group bi-monthly to discuss progress and how to implement its recommendations.
“We are glad that we have someone to champion this issue,” he said following Tuesday’s council meeting.
“It’s a very important matter and it’s called an emergency declaration because something needs to be done fairly quickly.
“We will start by setting an example as a parish council, by doing what we can to cut down on our own emissions.”
More by this authorThomas Malina