It was great to be able to share some of the thing we are planning to do in our new Reading Climate Emergency Strategy last night. Many thanks to Michael Bright, and all at Reading Town Meal, for organising the event and for keeping things going despite the Covid restrictions.
The first draft of our food waste fermentation and composting advice is available and we’d love some feedback to email@example.com whilst the graphically capable amongst us make it look pretty for the real thing. Does it help? What’s unclear?
This is a reposting of my final interview with the wonderful Ayo Sokale. Ayo asks me to talk about ‘Climate Change and Class’, which is a subject of real concern to me. Underlying this question is the issue of Climate Justice, particularly the disproportionate impacts that climate change will have on more vulnerable communities. We are used to hearing about the impact of extreme weather on poorer communities in other countries but the risk is very real for us here in Reading as well.
The interview was filmed in June 2019 when I was the Chair of the RCCP.
The early Spring meant the earliest average emergence of butterflies in the last 20 years. . Please spend just 15 minutes on a sunny day (don’t choose boiling hot at midday weather) to count butterflies in your garden or on your daily exercise route so that Butterfly Conservation can understand how the changing weather patterns affects populations.
You can download an app to identify and count butterflies on the move, or scribble in a notebook to enter the data later at the butterfly count website
You ‘ve probably noticed that Reading Borough Council is leaving a number of grass verges and roundabouts to grow longer this year rather than having their normal 6-7 cuts a year. This is part of their commitment to the climate action plan and biodiversity action plan, but monitoring is needed to review the impact of these changes, both good and bad. You can help with this if you record your interesting sightings on their rewilding page (deer already seen on one), which is where to go to read more about this action and the location of rewilding sites.
Then help climate scientists understand past rainfall variations and improve models for future flooding events?
The UK has an amazing repository of rainfall records from the last 200 years, but most of this is handwritten and not that easy to use in the current era. The Rainfall Rescue Project is seeking volunteers to transfer all these old handwritten pages of rainfall data into online spreadsheets.
It’s easy to do a few tens of records a day without getting bored to tears, but I recommend that you choose the option to transcribe local records because it is easier to read the handwritten locations if you recognise the place names!
It is of course a challenging time to be launching this consultation. With the concern about the spread of the coronavirus, many people will not be focused on the Climate Emergency. I certainly share those worries, and desperately hope we are lucky, and that the forecasts don’t come close to those ‘reasonable worst case scenarios’. Climate change probably has little to do with COVID-19, however it is interesting to note the similarity between responding to a viral epidemic, and adapting to climate change. When we have brought the virus under control, I hope we will be able to reflect on: our attitude to risk; and the resilience of our communities and infrastructure, that make our complex lives possible.
The risk of coronavirus will fade over the coming months. The Climate Emergency however, is a much bigger problem for us to deal with. Happily, there has been some really good work going on in Reading to get the town prepared for the challenges ahead.
On 13th March I will be at the public consultation launch of our new Reading Climate Emergency Strategy. This is a proud moment for me as Chair of the Reading Climate Change Partnership. Around this time last year, the Partnership was in the process of kick-starting a busy year of work on the Strategy. We had just agreed as well, to promote the creation of a new ‘Reading Climate Action Network’ (ReadingCAN) – something for everyone to be part of, and a growing group of experts, businesses and members of the Reading community to write and deliver the Strategy with us.
I am hugely grateful to everyone who put their time, ideas, passion and commitment into this work. There are six themes at the heart of the Strategy, all of which have detailed Action Plans of what we are going to do over the next 5 years. And the Visions behind each theme are strong and inspiring…driving us towards a town that is zero carbon by 2030, and a Reading that is getting ready to adapt and deal with what we can expect from the changing climate.
I hope you find it inspiring. Please do share with you family, friends and colleagues, and please do join us. There is a lot to do to deliver this Climate Emergency Strategy…and of course the work doesn’t stop there.
Please do give us your thoughts and feedback by taking part in our consultation. We are grateful to our Partners at Reading Borough Council for hosting and promoting the consultation, which is available here www.reading.gov.uk/climateconsultation and will be open until 24th April.
This is the forth in the series of interviews that I had with the wonderful Ayo Sokale. In this, Ayo asks me about ‘Climate Change and Children’. My son was born close to time I started my role as Chair of the RCCP so this is very real for me. It is so important that we create a good future for him, and all of our children. We need to push hard, believe and make it happen…and there is no more time to wait.
Please do check out our new Adaptation Plan. Reading this, you’ll understand a lot about where I am coming from in the interview. It is important to appreciate the risks that we face…and to pick up on the some of the things we can do to get prepared for climate change.
The close of 2019 is rapidly approaching. It has been a huge year for us, as now a growing Reading Climate Action Network. A lot of good things have happened:
We declared a Climate Emergency in February, which has been a powerful inspiration;
Our board has strengthened, and capacity is building in some of our partners, for example the Council’s appointment of Peter Moore into a new post, as Climate Change Manger for RBC;
New sub-networks are building, including the Reading Business CAN;
There have been a lots of climate change related events, directly or indirectly connected with us, from Theme workshops to the inspiring Climate Strike and the Strategy launch;
The first Reading Adaptation Plan is finished, and will be uploaded here soon;
And, of course big job of writing the new Strategy has dominated the second half of the year, with a growing number of us shaping Reading’s direction for the next 5 years.
There have been challenges as well. Personally, it has been heavy going, trying to balance the chairship with the day job, fatherhood / family life and being a musician. Thank you for being patient if I have been slow to respond. I know I am not alone here, and I am hugely grateful to all of you who have put your time, knowledge and passion into ReadingCAN. We do rely on good will and volunteering. I know this has limits but I hope the seeds we sow here will help us grow and will help us build the case for more support (people and money).
Speaking about challenges, there has of course been a General Election. As I work in the public sector, I had to observe 5 weeks of pre-election silence. This was important but the timing was not great for the Strategy work. And the final result did not go the way I hoped it might. I noted the other party manifestos did offer more optimistic lines on climate change, which could have given us a real lift. However, there was no escape from the vortex of Brexit in this election.
The climate is still changing though, and this makes what we are doing even more important! We need to be there for our colleagues, families and friends in Reading. We need to show leadership; we need to support each-other; and we need to grow, learn and inspire over the next 5 years. We can make a real difference in bringing our carbon footprint down, and preparing the town for more extreme weather…the consequences of climate change. And we are not the only town doing this – the majority of Local Authorities have now declared Climate Emergencies so there is a wider network we can reach out to.
Where there is a will there is a way!
I wish you all Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.