The article below was written by Damian and published in this week's editions of the Herald and Petersfield Post:
"Climate change is a defining challenge of our time. Its impacts are becoming more visible to everyone.
The unusual weather patterns in the past few weeks have once again reminded us of climatic shifts. Multiple parts of the world – including some of the poorest – face severe consequences. Glaciers have shrunk, vegetation patterns are changing, sea levels rising, heat waves becoming more intense.
Addressing this means going well beyond the actions in train from national governments across the world.
The COP26 summit being hosted by the UK in November will bring global leaders together to accelerate action towards the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement signed back in 2015.
The parties will meet and discuss how the individual and collective efforts of nations can secure global net zero by the middle of this century, to keep the target of 1.5 degrees increase in global warming within reach.
The UK has taken important steps in its efforts to decarbonise, and the progress we have made is acknowledged across the world. But we now need to scale-up our national response to reach our own legally-binding target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
It also needs actions that affect how we live our lives – and that means households and businesses being prepared to change the way we think, and what we do.
Climate change will affect us all. It is also affected by us all.
To complement the global COP26 summit, a local initiative – COP East Hampshire – will focus on what we ourselves can do locally to accelerate our journey to net zero: individual families and firms, local government, the public sector, schools, voluntary groups and civil society.
Organised jointly with East Hampshire District, the event will form part of the council’s ‘Let’s Talk’ programme of community engagement, and aims to give residents and businesses an insight into the issues we must overcome and the best actions we can take to limit our impact on the environment.
To reflect the specific circumstances of our largely rural area, work has already begun through the formation of three separate Action Groups, bringing together local people with expertise and knowledge in the fields of buildings, transport, and land use & agriculture.
Chaired independently, the groups are working to establish best practice and to identify specific and tangible actions that can help reduce our collective carbon footprint.
The outputs from these groups will be shared at a public event in Alton on Friday 8th October. The half day event at the Alton Maltings will feature presentations and case studies, and a ‘fair’ of companies and organisations that can offer support and advice.
We hope to see a whole range of services featured, from electric vehicles through to housing retrofit schemes, from cycling initiatives to local produce that reduces food miles, from advice on tree planting and grow your own to new battery technology and energy management for new homes.
We are fortunate locally to have some very active community groups and organisations who are already helping people to make changes. East Hampshire has a long and strong record in this regard. Now we can broaden that shared understanding of the need to change and how to do it.
Beyond the things that people can do individually, a key part of this is the opportunity for local businesses to come and hear how they too can benefit. Our local economy is built on many small businesses, many now looking to develop their own decarbonisation plan.
It can often be easier to see the benefits and scale of change that large businesses can make, but with an increasing focus on supply chains and customer demands, small businesses too need to take advantage of the opportunity.
Just as with COP26, the effort must of course be sustained. Success for COP East Hampshire will be about how change is created in the weeks and months after 8th October.
As with most change, making the first step is often the most important. If we all can make change through the thousands of individuals, households and businesses here, just imagine the difference that wider collective effort could make."