Response from Karen Mitchell, our CEO.
This week has seen some concerning U-turns to the UK’s green policies, including delaying the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035, more time to transition from gas boilers to electric heat pumps and the scrapping of plans for landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties.
Other proposals scrapped are around household recycling, car-sharing, diet and flying.
These changes have implications not just for our work but for everyone concerned about the future of Cumbria and beyond, and flies in the face of the scientific evidence that shows we are in the midst of a climate crisis. Only hours before the Prime Minister’s announcement on 20 September, the UN Sec Gen said ‘Humanity has opened the gates of hell. Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects. Distraught farmers watching crops carried away by floods; Sweltering temperatures spawning disease; And thousands fleeing in fear as historic fires rage.’
We are so clearly in a crisis situation – it is no time for dithering or delay. So where does the weakening of targets by Government leave Cumbria where our rural communities, low income families and vulnerable people are hardest hit by climate change?
With fuel bills at a record high and extreme weather conditions impacting lives, our Cold to Cosy Homes service has been inundated with requests for help. This initiative makes people more comfortable in their homes whilst reducing their energy bills. The U-turn on plans for landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of homes leaves a heavy burden on the shoulders of tenants, but also increases the need for funded services like Cold to Cosy Homes. To help us do more of this kind of work please donate.
As the Chief Executive of a climate change organisation I never imagined I would find myself agreeing with a major global car manufacturer. But in response to the push back of the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles, Lisa Brankin, Ford UK chair has called for “ambition, commitment and consistency” from the Government. She said: “A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three. We need the policy focus trained on bolstering the EV (electric vehicle) market in the short term and supporting consumers…” And we also need and will continue to call for other options which reduce dependency on private vehicle ownership – such as more public transport, more safe segregated routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
Whilst Government policies wax and wane we will remain unerringly focussed on our vision of a zero carbon Cumbria by 2037 as these U-turns do not change the fact that climate change is real and is happening now. It does not change the legally binding UK Climate Change Act. We will continue to work in partnership with multiple communities and organisations across Cumbria through initiatives like the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership – the biggest collaboration of its kind in the country.
Every day I am heartened by how many people and organisations in Cumbria are taking action on climate change. Only this morning I presented to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales keen to understand the role they can play in climate action. I heard there that nine of the leading accountancy and finance bodies wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister just a few days ago calling for the UK government to show global leadership. It stated:
“The UK must stick to its domestic net zero commitments and provide a clear policy framework to help businesses accelerate innovation and investment…There is enormous potential for net-zero initiatives that restore nature and improve the lives of people and communities.”
Yes to that.