What should Basingstoke Council do about climate change? A manifesto for action – Consuming all the waste we produce; generating all the energy we need.
Basingstoke is at a turning point. We, and by that we mean everyone that lives and work here, have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make our borough one of the most environmentally responsible areas in the UK. We, as a borough, have tremendous plans to develop and grow. The Horizon 2050 project has set out the sort of place we want to be by 2050.
We have an opportunity to make Basingstoke a place truly to be proud of. A place that has the best environment possible and a place that has stepped up to its responsibilities to care for and nurture its people, and its natural environment.
But we are in danger of letting that opportunity “slip through our fingers”.
Climate change is a given. It is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). Most of these come from the combustion of fossil fuel to heat our buildings, to transport our goods and our people and to power our electrical machines. The rest comes from our waste and from growing our food. These emissions reduce the quality of the air we breathe.
In Paris in 2015 the World’s Government’s accepted a legal obligation to limit the increase in the Earth’s temperature to 1.5 degrees or less. In October 2018 the IPCC confirmed that this is a goal we must achieve to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown. The IPCC concluded that we have just 12 years to reduce our GHG emissions to a safe level. The IPPC was also clear that action is required at international, regional, national and local levels.
In Basingstoke the steps required to meet the 12-year deadline are clear:
- Recognise that Basingstoke contributes to climate change mostly by burning fossil fuels, in the way we (mis) handle waste and in the way we grow our food. All this pollutes our air and damages our natural environment.
- Understand that 80% of our emissions come from generating the energy we need; energy that is used to heat our buildings (40%), run our transport (40%) and power our electrical gadgets and machines (20%).
- Review how our energy requirements will change over the next 20-30 years based on our local plans for more buildings, a lot more vehicles and for a larger population.
- Commit to exploiting technology and revising regulations to:
a. Increase our energy efficiency – stronger planning rules for new buildings and a co-ordinated low carbon transport strategy.
b. Generate renewable energy locally – solar PV, wind turbines, anaerobic digestion/ bio-methane generation, heat pumps and combined heat and power.
- Take advantage of the financial and environmental returns from investing in energy efficiency and renewables eg
a. High quality jobs in sustainable industries.
b. A 10%, or greater, return on investment.
c. Cleaner air.
d. A more attractive environment for the people and businesses of Basingstoke.
- Understand that we have less than 12 years to act.
- Develop a plan to de-carbonise the Borough and implement it.
This will take leadership and a common objective. “A Basingstoke that consumes all the waste it creates and generates all the energy it needs” is a great vision but requires leadership, commitment and resources to implement it. We have an opportunity to create one of the cleanest, greenest and most attractive boroughs in the UK. We have a responsibility to ensure we do that. Let’s not let that opportunity pass us by.