There are currently, 25,000 delegates in attendance at the 2015 Climate Conference in Paris. The conference, also known as COP21, is the latest is a series of conferences (the 21st believe it or not!) to review the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The UNFCCC was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and has 165 signatories. It sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Put simply it commits nations to reducing emissions to avert dangerous climate change.
You may be wondering why the holding of a global conference on Climate Change would prompt me to write a blog post. Whilst there is a consensus that Climate Change is one of the biggest threats to global security that we must address, surely it’s a matter that only national governments or inter-governmental organisations can address? Well whilst it’s undoubtedly the case that negotiations between governments do have the potential to lead to commitments that will drastically cut global greenhouse gas emissions, there are things that we as a local authority and each of us as individuals could do right away.
Last month Tameside was among 50 local authorities to sign a pledge committing the Council to run entirely on green energy by 2050. We have already taken a number of steps to slash the carbon footprint of our borough, though until now have not had a target identified that we could work towards. The measures we have taken so far have included beginning the installation of efficient LED street lighting, the insulation of thousands of homes and the use of a government grant to invest £70,000 in to efficient new heating systems for vulnerable households.
This commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050 will require much more action in addition to what we have already done. Our plans for the next year include a commitment to continue rolling out our LED lighting programme, drive up recycling rates (saving money and the environment) and planting more trees to offset emissions where they can’t be prevented at source.
Whilst some of these measures require a small amount of investment up front, the cheaper cost of lighting our streets with LED lights and the reduced landfill charges we will incur by sending less to the tip will pay for themselves. Though even if that were not the case, given the threat of climate change is predicted to result in thousands of environmental refugees and have huge consequences for communities across the globe, in my view these are actions that we can hardly afford not to take.