The article below was written by Damian and published in this week's Herald editions and Petersfield Post:
The international COP26 summit in Glasgow is fast approaching. It will be a vital opportunity for the world to commit to redoubling efforts on tackling climate change.
Meanwhile plans for our own COP26 event here in East Hampshire continue apace. It is great to see so many local community groups and businesses stepping forward to take part in the event.
The half day event is being held at the Alton Maltings on Friday 8th October, organised by the district council and part of its “Let’s Talk” community engagement programme. There will be a series of talks and presentations running alongside an exhibition of local organisations and businesses who can help people take steps to decarbonise.
I’m delighted to announce that Lord Deben – the Chairman of the Climate Change Committee – has accepted our invitation to be the keynote guest speaker at the event.
Lord Deben — or John Gummer as he was — leads the independent statutory body that advises the UK and devolved governments on emissions targets, and was himself Secretary of State for the Environment in the 1990s.
The CCC also reports to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Although the work being done at a national level is vitally important, as are collective agreements at the international COP26, what happens locally including here in East Hampshire also really matters.
We all have a role to play in reducing our individual carbon footprint – from transport to the use of energy at home – and this event is designed to help people understand the choices and possibilities a little better.
Climate change can seem a very remote issue, and it can be difficult to know where to start, but as with many things in life, starting is often the hardest part of change.
COP26 East Hampshire brings together local organisations and businesses able to help people make those changes, and is also an opportunity for people to hear about some of local initiatives already underway.
East Hampshire has some incredible community groups and enterprises already taking a lead. Part of the work being done ahead of the event in October has seen these organisations come together to discuss how to accelerate change locally, with presentations on their findings a key part of the event.
In a largely rural area such as East Hampshire, the challenges are somewhat different to more urban areas, and that is why three separate Action Groups have been working with a specific focus on transport, buildings and land use.
Each of these areas offers opportunities for change locally, and what happens here will make a difference.
How can we accelerate the shift away from petrol and diesel, how can we make our homes more energy efficient, what can we learn from the best land-use practices – these are all important questions.
COP26 in Glasgow is the moment when the world shines a spotlight on the issue of global climate change, and just as the action taken by different nation states will determine its success, encouraging local people and businesses to take action for themselves is the ambition for the project here in East Hampshire.
This will take much more than a single event and will require a sustained approach over time. But it is a focal point from which momentum can build.
Registration for free entry to the event is now open via Eventbrite (search ‘COP26 East Hampshire’), with more details and links available via www.damian.hinds.com