Banbury Community Action Group

Climate change – make your views heard

Climate change is one of the greatest long-term challenges we face today, but what can we do about it? Well, for a start, we can speak up and voice our concerns. This News looks at three current consultations: if you haven’t already done so, respond to them now and have your say!2020 has seen the whole world preoccupied (rightly and understandably) with another matter. That does nothing to alter the fact that climate change is one of the greatest long-term challenges we face today.May 2019, and our Westminster Parliament declared a ‘climate emergency’.We’ve put a section at the end of this News with some information about climate change, in case anyone feels the need for a refresh on the basics!
Produce & seed swapBefore we think Climate Change, though, it’s great to be able to report on our recent Community Garden event:Thank you to everyone who came along to our Produce and Seed Swap at the Garden on 14 August.We welcomed lots of visitors who came bearing gifts of a whole range of produce, spare seeds, gardening items, ideas – and who took away equal amounts of the same! It was a fantastic opportunity to have some distanced chatting, renewing acquaintances and building new friendships.We were delighted to have Banbury Trees join us – don’t miss their Autumn Tree Planting workshop, 17 October at noon in the Bridge Street Garden.We greatly appreciate the generous donation to the event made by Pat Mylvaganam and to have help at the Swap.
The local pictureLast autumn, Oxfordshire County Council approved plans to meet a target of reducing its own carbon footprint to ‘net zero’ by 2030.In July 2019, Cherwell District councillors declared a climate emergency and the District Council is also working towards ‘net zero’ by 2030.  This carbon neutral goal includes both the energy the council consumes, and that used by the vehicles that deliver services to residents. More information is available through Cherwell’s website.How can we, as individuals, best do our bit?  What can we do to help tackle Climate Change? To begin with, personal action is ESSENTIAL for emphasising the importance of environmental issues to policy makers and to businesses. “Use your voice, use your vote, use your choice”  Al Gore, environmentalist, USAHere are three current opportunities you can take to make your views known. Please don’t let them pass by!#TheTimeIsNowThe end of June saw the Prime Minister announce plans to build and build some more, and to make building much easier by disabling the break that was the old planning system. The end of June also saw a virtual mass lobby of the Westminster Parliament by 14,000 people asking MP’s to put people, climate and nature at the heart of our nation’s plans to rebuild a stronger economy. This alternative view of the future is for a healthier, greener, fairer future. It’s led by the Climate Coalition, a group of over 140 organisations (including the National Trust, Women’s Institute, Oxfam, and the RSPB) leading the way in action against climate change.There’s still time to be part of the movement. Press Government to take this unTarmac’d route; demand a recovery that benefits people, nature and the environment. Sign up to lobby your MP until October 2020, and sign the Climate Coalition’s declaration.As the campaign slogan says: #TheTimeIsNow.Photo by Markus Spiske
Transport decarbonisation plan: call for ideasClosing 31 AugustThe Government is currently consulting on Decarbonising the transport system. That’s excellent news and means that you can have a say.The Government position might look rather set, given the £27 billion sum earmarked for the RIS2 (Road Investment Strategy), the 2020-2025 strategic roads programme. This, however, is now subject to legal challenge on climate grounds because a clear carbon reduction pathway needs to be set to ensure compliance with the Climate Change Act and international Paris Agreement commitments. Currently the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy, launched July 2018, sets out an ambition for at least half of new cars and 40% of new vans, to be ultra low emission by 2030, with the Government enabling the infrastructure needed for the change to electric vehicles. As part of the government Air quality plan, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will cease before 2040.Could or should these targets be more ambitious? Time is not on our side. While a move to electric vehicles has a part to play, the actual remedy is a dramatic reduction in car-miles regardless of how those cars are powered. We can all be responsible about the number of car-miles we are clocking up; an “eco-levy” served on mileage, though, would help put an effective brake on usage.Compared to much of continental Europe, our public transport is poor: improve this and car mileage will fall.There are incredible levels of new housing development in and around our area.Are these developments designed to minimise the need for those who move in, to own or use a car?Is the development compact, dense, and of high quality, on brownfield land in existing urban areas?These are all important considerations if we are looking to cut car miles. Planning policy has a critical role to play and the Government needs to take heed.Encouraging active travel in the form of bicycles and e-bikes could have an impressive impact in towns, with knock on benefits for public health. The UK lags behind much of Europe in terms of the quality of its cycling infrastructure; Banbury is not a bike-friendly place. If you respond to the consultation, you might recommend that developing a quality segregated cycling infrastructure should be made a priority.There are roads that could be closed allowing space for walking and cycling, and simultaneously improving the air quality for vulnerable populations: so around schools, hospitals and care homes, for example. It’s an attractive thought.And really, all plans for aviation expansion across the UK just have to be scrapped if we are to be serious about decarbonising transport.Friends of the Earth have provided a response to the Government’s call – have a read and be inspired to make your own views heard.Go to the Transport decarbonisation plan: call for ideasSome good newsAt the end of July, acknowledging the role ‘active transport’ has to play in tackling environmental as well as health issues, the PM announced ambitious plans to foster a cycling ‘evolution’ in England. Amongst them, there’s to be a new watchdog, Active Travel England, to ensure cycling and walking routes are up to standard. In the pot is cycle training for every child or adult who seeks it, a pilot scheme for GPs to prescribe cycling to improve patent’s health, and thousands of miles of protected bike lanes. Proposals suggest that locals could have a say in decisions to close residential side streets to through motor traffic, and even main roads in built up areas could be put aside for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. There could be grants for electric-assist -bikes. Banbury needs to take full advantage of the opportunities this opens up!Photo by Roman Koester
Cherwell Local Plan ReviewCherwell District Council is reviewing its draft Local Plan.Local plans guide the development of new homes, workplaces, and infrastructure. The Council is embarking on reviewing its existing Plan and asking for comments on a number of themes, one of which is addressing the climate crisis. So, this offers another wonderful opportunity for you to stand up and be heard. Take that chance. Beware though, the window of opportunity is brief and consultation closes 14 September.Go to the Planning policy consultation web pageThe discussion document, Planning for Cherwell to 2040 – A Community Involvement Paper, is available from the council website. If you are looking for inspiration and ways of phrasing what you want to say, CPRE Cherwell gives some thoughts on how they feel it is appropriate to respond. Their main message is that it is action that is needed, not just fine words. They point out that in the past, the Council has claimed to promote pro-environmental policies, but then failed to see these through.The council is sharing discussion points from the paper on its social media platforms using the #CDCLocalPlanReview hashtag.Remember, use your voice:As a consumerA customerA member of the electorateAn active citizen.Speak out, but underpin your message with some personal steps towards combatting climate change. After all, if everyone made changes, the crisis would be less critical… We’ll give some ideas in the next News: and we’d love to hear any suggestions you might have.
Are you feeling rather lonely in all this?Meeting up and joining forces is a brilliant way of getting things done. There’s plenty of climate-action aware people in the following groups who would understand:There’s us at Banbury CAG – become a member: it’s free, and join us at our monthly meetings. Just update your settings at the link in the footer of this messageExtinction Rebellion OxfordGreenpeaceFriends of the EarthPhoto by Markus Spiske
Climate change backgroundTo refresh on the very basics: increases in atmospheric concentrations of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are causing global temperatures to rise by trapping the sun’s warmth in the lower atmosphere. This is known as the greenhouse effect. The increase in greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activity. If you’re looking for a more in-depth analysis, see the Met Office website.As the climate changes, extreme weather events such as heavy rain or heatwaves become more frequent and increase in intensity – while a warm spell in summer is very likely, the very high temperatures we’ve seen in the past few weeks have been made hotter by climate change. Warm air holds more moisture, so the following rain and thunderstorms were more intense as a result. Understanding the contribution climate change makes to specific extreme events helps the authorities and public services to be better prepared in future.The wake-up to climate change has arguably been more like a Sunday morning lie-in, but there is now an increasing level of realisation – ok yes, there are some very notable exceptions here – that urgent action is required.Following on from the Paris Agreement, in June 2019, the government committed to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2050. Put another way, the UK pledged that, taking 1990 levels as the baseline, by 2050 no additional amounts of greenhouse gases will be entering the atmosphere from the UK. There are loads of additional detail on the Institute for Government’s website.Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash