Has Harrogate climate festival set district up for its next steps in Net Zero journey and what can we expect next

For anyone asking the question ‘what has Harrogate gained from Harrogate Climate Action Festival?’... organisers respond with a simple answer - a great deal.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 4:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th October 2021, 4:22 pm
Reducing carbon emissions in the Harrogate district - Knabs Ridge Wind Farm near Harrogate. (Picture Gerard Binks)

In advance of the new three-week event scheduled to coincide with the build-up to this weekend’s COP26 summit, the emphasis was on practical steps to help the district hit its own targets for reducing carbon emissions locally.

The team behind the festival, whose official events ended last week, say that is exactly what Harrogate Climate Action Festival has delivered.

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They point, in particular, to the groundbreaking Net Zero Business Conference at Harrogate Convention Centre in which locally-based firms shared their knowledge and skills.

Kirsty Hallett, one of the volunteer organisers from the Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition who masterminded the new festival, said: “It was fantastic to see the high level of commitment shown by many local business leaders.

“The Climate Action Festival helped Harrogate businesses to find sources of support for meaningful target setting and measurement of emissions reduction across their supply chains.

“In particular, business to business engagement and information sharing relevant to workplaces was seen during the Net Zero Business Conference.”

Organisers say the festival, whose fringe events will carry on into next month, has boosted the Harrogate district’s environmental aspiration in five major ways.

1. Hitting Harrogate district’s carbon targets

“The Climate Action Festival was a clear demonstration of the many ways it is possible in a practical way to act now to limit climate damage.

“It puts Harrogate in a good position to set purposeful emissions targets, make new decisions and hit net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

2. Businesses backing for change

“It was fantastic to see the high level of commitment shown by many local business leaders.

“In particular, business to business engagement and information sharing relevant to workplaces was strong during the Net Zero Business

Conference.”

“Fundamentally, the Climate Action Festival helped Harrogate businesses to find sources of support for meaningful target setting and measurement of emissions reduction across their supply chains.

“Local employers have been signing up for helpful workshops via Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition.”

3. Clear and expert advice

“One major benefit of the Climate Action Festival was that many local people heard first hand from globally-renowned climate scientists and other specialists.

“These speakers left Harrogate residents in no doubt that we need to act immediately to avoid the worst extremes of climate change.”

4. The support of schools and local groups

“People from different walks of life collaborated in a lot of the events and organised ‘fringe’ climate action events in response to COP26, including Horticap and Harrogate Fair Trade.

“A major highlight was seeing hundreds of local families taking part in the community day and school ‘climate friendly ideas’ competition.

“It was great to see younger generations passionately advocating many solutions to the climate crisis.”

5. High level of involvement points to a positive future

“More than 60 organisations helped lead events in Harrogate Climate Action Festival.

“The high level of involvement enabled many people in Harrogate to learn about different practical solutions that can limit climate damage.

“This puts Harrogate in a good position to rapidly reduce our demand for energy and fossil fuels for transport and

heating.”

Conclusion

Held in the run-up to the COP26 summit - which starts in Glasgow this Sunday with the aim of accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - Harrogate Climate Action Festival was always regarded as a starting point rather than a finish.

The ideas it highlighted and shared are now being taken forward by a new initiative by Harrogate Borough Council which officially supports measures to address the climate emergency as outlined by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and has previously committed itself to the vision of having a net zero-carbon economy here by 2038.

What's next?

Residents will shortly to be consulted on an updated Harrogate Borough Council Carbon Reduction Policy.

The work, too, goes on for Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition which is set to develop localised proposals linked to the forthcoming Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission strategy.

How to create a greener house: Harrogate retrofit awareness event

Harrogate College is to partner with Zero Carbon Harrogate to host a free Retrofitting Awareness event for people working in the local construction industry.

The event will take place at the college on November 1, from 6pm-7pm, and has been designed to provide the local building industry with a deeper understanding of what retrofitting is, why it’s important for the UK’s carbon reduction targets and the skills required to do it.

As well as educating attendees about retrofitting, the event will also provide an opportunity for people working in the construction industry to tell the college what they feel should be incorporated into the courses.

​Speaking at the event will be two industry experts, Adam Harper, a chartered construction manager, and programme manager at City of York Council, and Chris Wilde, MD at Yorkshire Energy Systems Ltd, and a board member of the Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition.

To sign up to attend the Retrofit Awareness Event, visit www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk/events

To access free “go zero” information for individuals and businesses, visit the Zero Carbon Harrogate website: www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk/gozero