WHY HAVE WE JOINED OTHERS IN DECLARING A CLIMATE EMERGENCY?
For two reasons.
Firstly because carbon emissions need to be cut fast at all levels – global, national and local. A landmark UN report in 2018 highlighted the urgency of this. The report spelt out the dire consequences if we fail to keep a global rise in temperature this century below 1.5C. Time for doing so is running out. Our government plans to cut the nation’s carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050. These ambitious goals cannot be met without individuals and communities playing their part.
The second reason we felt compelled to join others in declaring a climate emergency relates to the loss of biodiversity.
- Pollution, pesticides and changing climate have depleted our species diversity by 70% since the 1970s
- 97% of wildflower meadows in the UK have been lost since 1930
The decline in pollinators such as the honey bee if left unchecked could threaten our food security.
Improving our natural environment is something we feel we could, and should, do something about.
The climate change community group, Sustainable Stansted, was set up in October 2023 with several objectives in mind:
- to set up projects that are grounded in the community
- to focus efforts on tackling biodiversity loss and climate change
- to engage and inspire the community to play its part in meeting the climate challenge
The group functions independently of, but with support from the Parish Council. When it was established, the Parish Council hoped was that it would become a community group led by residents, local businesses and organisations. Sustainable Stansted has since then grown in leaps and bounds since its first meeting in October 2022.
Sustainable Stansted has now got itself a logo and a page on Facebook, a Chair in Kate Allen and organised itself into two subgroups. One is looking at energy usage and how to reduce it in the community. Its other Environmental wing, meanwhile, focuses on green issues and biodiversity.
The Parish Council has provided £5,000 in financial support to Sustainable Stansted, and the group has applied for £4,993 from Uttlesford District Council’s Zero Carbon Communities Fund to support its activities.
PRACTICAL STEPS TO A GREENER FUTURE
One of the most practical steps our community can take to begin to fight climate change is establish the size of our carbon football as a village, as a community, as an organisation and as individuals. After all it is difficult to establish how much carbon we should be taking out of the atmosphere if we do not know how much we are putting into it.
The Village’s Carbon Footprint
There are many carbon footprint calculators online.
We used the impact-tool.org.uk to estimate the community’s carbon footprint.
The calculator estimates that the amount of carbon consumed annually per household in Stansted is 20.4 tonnes.
So how does our village compare with others nationally and locally. The same calculator estimates that households in Stansted consume more carbon than the national average, which is slightly under 16 tonnes of carbon annually. Households across Uttlesford District average higher than ourselves.
You can download a copy of the report on the village’s carbon footprint:
You can use the carbonfootprint calculator to estimate your own household’s carbon usage.
PARISH COUNCIL PROPOSALS
Suggested steps that the Parish Council should consider taking to play its part in reducing carbon consumption were highlighted in a report to its Full Council in July 2022:
- Performing a Carbon Audit of the Parish Council
- Updating to LED bulbs in the 250 street lights managed by the Parish Council
- Refurbishing furniture and tech
- Reduction in staff commuting
- Introducing a green check list for planning applications
- Incorporating climate goals into the Neighbourhood Development Plan
The following measures were suggested in relation to improving biodiversity in Stansted:
- Establishing green corridors by tree planting and rewilding
- Banning the use of toxic chemicals in the management of Parish Council green spaces
- Introducing a No Mow in May
- Planting Pollinator friendly plants
The Parish Council recognises that adapting for climate change, even laying the ground work for any adapting, can be a hefty commitment for organisations and individuals. But there are considerably savings to be had, too. The switch to LED bulbs, for example, could reduce the Parish Council’s energy bill by as much as 70%.
Download the presentation to the Full Council: