First ever Harrogate Climate Action Festival gets underway with events planned through October

The first ever Harrogate Climate Action Festival has got underway in what organisers hope will be a major turning point in the district's fight against climate change.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 9:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 4:20 pm
Festival organisers (left to right): Councillor Phil Ireland, Holly Hansen-Maughan, Jade Boggust, Chris Arnott, Kirsty Hallett, Amber Wright and Professor Neil Coles. Photo: Gerard Binks.

It launched on Saturday with an event at Harrogate College and over the next three weeks will see climate experts, campaigners, businesses and council officials come together with the aim of accelerating action to counter the threat of global warming.

Organised by Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition (HDCCC), there will be a Net Zero Business Conference at Harrogate Convention Centre on 15 October, as well as several smaller events including a walk to school day and a car free day.

Speaking at the 'what does the future look like’ launch event on Saturday, professor Neil Coles, chair of HDCCC, said: “It’s great that we are here and all willing to take action against climate change.

Pictured are school children, event organisers and judges who took part in a competition at the launch event at Harrogate College on Saturday.

“There’s a window of opportunity for us to take action collectively and it’s not just about business and government, it’s about all of us as well.

"Through small actions, done collectively, we can make a big difference.”

Running until 21 October, the festival will also include an appearance from the UK’s first 100% electric coach, called the Carbon Battle Bus, and the unveiling of an eco-friendly house built in just two days using construction methods of the future.

The festival has also been planned to coincide with the build up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference - or COP26 - which will take place in Glasgow next month.

One of the big attractions at the launch event was an eco-friendly house built by Pure Haus in just two days. Kevin Pratt, a co-director of the company, is pictured.

This event is being seen as crucial if climate change is to be brought under control and could lead to major changes to our everyday lives, including a faster switch to electric cars and the speeding up of phasing out coal power.

For this conference, 200 countries are being asked for their plans to cut emissions by 2030.

It is Harrogate's own aim to achieve a net zero-carbon economy by 2038 - an ambitious target set by the borough council.

The festival was opened by Harrogate mayor councillor Trevor Chapman (right). He is pictured with his wife Janet, chair of HDCCC Professor Neil Coles (back), and councillor Paul Haslam (left).

Councillor Phil Ireland, the council's cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, said: "We can’t do this alone and nor would we want to. By working with HDCCC, businesses and residents we can all make a difference.

"Businesses will play a significant role in becoming more sustainable in the future and this event offers them the opportunity to hear from market leaders and find out why this transition to net zero is so critical for them.

"Climate change and the impact we’re all having on the planet, is at the forefront of people's minds and rightly so."

Councillor Ireland added: "It was fantastic to see that the first Climate Action Festival event was such a success.

"It was the first of its kind for the Harrogate district and marks an exciting time as we work collectively to ensure we can make a difference for future generations."

The festival's next major event will be the Net Zero Business Conference at Harrogate Convention Centre on 15 October.

There will be over 20 speakers from businesses including Yorkshire Water and Bettys and Taylors - and around 200 business leaders are expected to attend.

Event organiser Jade Boggust said: “The conference is for businesses of all sizes across Yorkshire to come to this free event to see and hear about the many benefits to net zero including financial, supply chain and resilience.

"Our aim is to help businesses of all sizes on this journey.”

To find out more go to hdccc.info/whats-on

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter