Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Climate Change – discussing the future

It is often said that some of the best meetings are those impromptu ones, spur of the moment, maybe a chat round the coffee machine which can be informative and helpful, no agenda but just sharing ideas and thoughts.

That was very much the case last Friday when I met a group of youngsters who had come to County Hall to raise awareness about Climate Change.

As I arrived at County Hall I saw the group sitting in the sunshine outside the building, peacefully protesting and voicing their concerns.

This provided a real opportunity for me to spend some time listening to their very genuine concerns about their future if action is not taken, and also gave them a chance to ask me some great questions – which I was very happy to answer.

I was asked to write to the Education Minister to ask that Climate Change is put on the national curriculum. It was interesting to hear the comment from one of the protestors that they thought that the way the subject is covered at the moment doesn’t convey the seriousness of the issue. So I will be writing this week as promised.

I listened to the concerns about the chemicals used in Fracking and the impacts in West Sussex and was able to reassure the group that there is no fracking in West Sussex.

We talked about cycle lanes in Chichester and how to make public transport more accessible. We also all agreed that plastic food wrapping and the use of plastic shopping bags are completely unnecessary.

We mentioned the Refill scheme as one way to help reduce using plastic bottles and whether WSCC could help make available more recycling bins in towns and buildings.

There was a concern about councillors not listening to the voice of the youngsters on this issue so we agreed to meet again in a couple of months’ time so we can continue to share thoughts, ideas and concerns.

One question I was asked was ‘what worries me’ and of course Climate Change really concerns me. As we sat outside enjoying the warm sunshine it was an ironic reminder of the impact Climate Change is having on our weather patterns. Although many of us like the warmer weather, in the long term the effects of global warming and the lack of rain will have devastating consequences.

In the South East we live in a very water stressed area so it is a very important issue and something that has concerned me for many years now. On a personal level we need water to live our lives - to drink, shower, clean our teeth, and wash our clothes - but on another level without water our food crops fail, the grass becomes dried, and animals do not have enough to eat or drink. In cases of severe drought water is extracted from our rivers but that in turn has a big impact on our environment and wildlife. Everything suffers and that really worries me.

So one of the big things all of us can do is to make a real effort to reduce our water usage, such as cutting down on the time it takes to shower, making sure we don’t leave taps running when cleaning our teeth and washing our hands and dishes – all simple actions that can make a real difference.

When we raise the issue of climate change we must all accept there is a need for every one of us to take urgent action and we will be talking about this more next month when we will be launching a new campaign and asking you to take the ‘West Sussex Climate Pledge’.

As part of the campaign we will be suggesting what you can do to help and also asking you for your top tips as well.

If we all make changes now we should make that difference – the difference that those youngsters want to secure their future.

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