THE LEADER of Warwickshire County Council (WCC), Coun Izzi Seccombe, has been reflecting on her visit to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
The COP26 summit took place from October 31 to November 12, bringing together world leaders, businesses, non-government organisations, scientists and climate activists to accelerate action towards goals on climate change. All countries taking part were asked to present emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.
Coun Seccombe met delegates, panellists and business leaders and shared with them Warwickshire’s plans for addressing its climate emergency.
Since declaring a climate emergency in 2019, WCC has made positive strides towards meeting its objective of achieving net zero emissions across the county, supporting residents and businesses to play their part as well as taking into account the council’s own carbon footprint.
WCC has put forward a number of schemes to help communities fight the climate emergency, including the Green Shoots programme, which provides funding to community and voluntary groups to mitigate against, and adapt to, the impact of climate change.
Warwickshire is committed to reducing emissions from areas that the council has direct control over, including own transport, gas and bought electricity, to ent zero by 2030.
The council has also pledged to do whatever we can to get our communities across Warwickshire to net zero by 2050 or sooner.
In making that pledge, Warwickshire joined with UK100, a network of local authorities across the country that shares knowledge, collaborates, and petitions the UK government with their collective power.
It was as a guest of UK100 that Coun Seccombe attended COP26 during its second week.
Speaking about her experience at the conference, Coun Seccombe said: “There was a great sense of initiative and drive, there was a real warmth about it too. What I’ve come away with is the really great value of having international people in our country, in Glasgow, with the same intent and purpose and it was really exciting.
“It was wonderful to talk to other countries about what they’re doing, where they are on this journey and I think there was a great envy in some cases about our position (in Warwickshire).
“My big ask and purpose for going up to Glasgow was the role of local government in the agenda for climate change. The interesting fact, for me, is that we can influence 30 per cent of the carbon emissions through local government, so why on earth would we not be a key partner for the government to work with to try to drive this agenda forward?
“I was really happy to be able to speak on the panel about the work that we’ve been doing in Warwickshire. Our Green Shoots fund, which has been so interestingly taken up by so many community groups, which they were very excited about and understanding too that none of us can do this with just ourselves; we have to do it in partnership.
“From the point of view of the county council, Warwickshire and my role with the Local Government Association, I think what was vital about going up to Glasgow was the role that we have to play. Whatever we do has an impact on our communities, and we can influence our communities, we can help them to make choices in life and we can give them information and advice.
“For me it’s about how we encourage people along this journey, by making sense of it. For example, air quality is something that makes sense to everybody no matter what part of that spectrum you’re on and improving the lives of children through better air quality is vital.
“I believe that we can all take this journey together and that’s what I want for Warwickshire.”
Councillor Jonathan Chilvers, leader of the Green Party group on WCC, said there was still much more which could be done in Warwickshire.
“Coun Izzi Seccombe is right to highlight the key role that local government can play in tackling climate change, but needs to be a little more sanguine about WCC’s own progress. I’d agree the council has made some positive steps, but amongst other things is still installing gas boilers in new buildings and spending £100s millions on new air-polluting road projects.
“I fear the change we need is being blocked by other Conservative councillors. The finance portfolio holder who holds the purse strings (the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the council) doesn’t think human-induced climate change is real and others recently claimed that people in the north of the county weren’t interested in the issue. We can protect Warwickshire for future generations, but we have to significantly up our pace.”
See more about Coun Seccombe’s visit to COP26 in Glasgow in the video at youtu.be/TLHRLsZLkAA
For More information about how Warwickshire is facing the challenges of the climate change emergency, visit www.warwickshireclimateemergency.org.uk/
Find out more about making a pledge for a greener Warwickshire at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/news/article/2546/make-a-pledge-for-a-greener-warwickshire
Get the latest news about how Warwickshire County Council and partners are facing the challenge of the climate emergency and how to get involved at eepurl.com/hrk-zf