As we should all be aware by now, human made climate change has primarily led to the current climate and ecological emergency facing us all.
Many words have been written and it's not the Parish Council's intention to repeat them here but to offer some pathways that might help you and your family to make a contribution to reducing the problems ahead and probably save some money in the process. Think global: act local.
So what is the core of the problem? Basically the release of too much greenhouse gas into the earth's atmosphere: principally carbon dioxide, but also methane. To simplify matters, the climate change potential of the latter is usually estimated in term of equivalent amounts of carbon dioxide: the cumulative effect being known as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Methane's effect reduces relatively quickly but inert carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for a very long time: so that's where our primary focus should lie.
You will have heard the phase 'carbon neutral by 20XX' (XX = 30 for Horsham District Council's operations, XX=50 for the UK, etc.). A couple of years ago the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that, to stay within an average long term temperature rise of 1.5°C, the world's population could only add about another 550Gt of CO2e to the atmosphere (the 'carbon budget'). After that we either stop emitting carbon dioxide completely or put in place sufficient measures to capture and store what we release – after all, that's what happened millennia ago when the world's hydrocarbon stores were created.
So, what's the score locally? Impact is a handy web tool that uses data from over 30 datasets compiled by researchers at the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the University of Exeter's Centre for Energy and the Environment to estimate the total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly and indirectly as a result of everyday human activities - heating homes, using electricity, transport, producing and distributing food, disposing of waste, etc. The results below tell us that Bramber parish households are emitting above average for the district: not a good start!
To put that in global context, if the world's population all released CO2e at the Bramber rate then our global carbon budget would be used up in about 4 years time (from late 2022), rather than the 8 or 9 years at current release levels.
Hopefully, having read this far, you want to make your own contribution to reducing the problem. In that case head to a carbon calculator: carbonindependent.org is one of the better ones, with some light reading on the side. You now have an idea where your carbon problems lie – tackling the big ones first is most efficient but do take the easy, small wins too! But how?
Help is at hand
Our collective local carbon footprint may be high, but help is at hand in the shape of Greening Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding. Greening Steyning (for short) comprises a lot of concerned local residents who initially got together in 2010. Its current aim is 'to make ours one of the greenest, healthiest and most sustainable communities in the UK', via its 2030 project. The website contains many links to its activities, so get involved! Time is short but help is at hand: just make those first steps of recognising the problem and seeking solutions.
Like many organisations, Bramber Parish Council declared a climate emergency (see the February 2020 minutes) and has been endeavouring to "do our bit". We thoroughly support Greening Steyning and we were instrumental in starting the project to get solar panels on the Village Hall roof. If you have any ideas how we could do more then feel free to contact us or come along to a parish meeting where there's always a short Open Forum session.