OPINION: Support our Climate Action Festival = Prof Neil Coles, Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition

The climate crisis has been declared and communities are rightly concerned about how it may affect them, their neighbour and more broadly the planet!

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 4:54 pm
27th September 2021 Harrogate Climate Action Festival Pictured organisers Cllr Phil Ireland, Holly Hansen-Maughan, Jade Boggust, Chris Arnott, Kirsty Hallett, Amber Wright and Professor Neil Coles. Picture Gerard Binks

A recent survey by HBC and HDCCC found that the community and businesses want to know – how do I reduce my emissions? Where do I find support? How do we fund it? What changes can I make? It’s such a BIG problem.

The Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition (HDCCC) has co-ordinated a Climate Action Festival this October to bring together residents, community groups and businesses to provide examples of how we can tackle the climate crisis. We want it to be more than just talk, we want to provide local people of all ages and backgrounds with practical and relevant advice on taking action to tackle climate change. The idea is to showcase practical actions that increase climate resilience, but also reduce our carbon emissions.

By having the festival this year, we hope to take advantage of the huge number of activities and information being made available on climate change through COP26 in Glasgow. In this way we can target helpful advice on what individuals, families and businesses can do to achieve our target of net zero carbon by 2038 or even sooner.

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We see the festival as a fantastic way to engage and involve as many people and businesses as we could from across the district and region. The Climate Action Festival runs throughout October. Key information events, covering the themes of energy, transport, and land use, will be held at the Harrogate College on October 2 and the Harrogate Convention Centre on Friday, October 15.

The ‘What does the future look like?’ community event at the college will promote green skills and low carbon approaches to everyday activities. This will be a family fun day, with more than 35 exhibitors providing practical advice on how we can all reduce our emissions every day. This is vital to achieving our collective zero carbon goal. If we all contribute, then the task is made easier. We want to see as many people there as possible.

The Net Zero Business event at the convention centre is aimed specifically at businesses with over twenty speakers providing information on climate change, and the how and what to do to reduce carbon emission. This can be in the supply chain, by changing businesses practices, or through better building and transport management. There will be more 25 businesses providing practical demonstrations. If there are businesses out here that would like to participate than please contact us through our website. Places are available.

The PlanetMark electric Caron Battle Bus, will be making a stop on the way to COP26. PlanetMark will provide information on where to find support for businesses to achieve net zero. Follow-up workshops, for those businesses interested developing an action plan to reduce their emissions, will be available.

But these key events are not the only activities going on during the festival. Additional events have been organised by several local organisations. For example, an active travel to school day is organised for October 8, by Zero Carbon Harrogate as part of the community contribution to reducing carbon emissions, pollution and improving health. Local people are also invited to sign up for a nature walk with Make it Wild on October 9 and visit the Horticap open days on October 23-24. Cultural activities include the online ‘our planet our home’ art exhibition from the Mercer Gallery.

All in all, the response to the festival so far has been brilliant. The hard-working team of volunteers behind the festival have been surprised and overwhelmed by the level of support provided by the community groups, media, business, and local government that have all contributed to make this event a huge success. We hope that many local residents will support our efforts and come along to enjoy the events – remember, everyone is invited to the community day at Harrogate College on October 2.