St Neots' community groups offer practical solutions to climate change
- Credit: ARCHANT
Last year, St Neots was exposed to three serious flooding events. Two caused by surface flooding during torrential downpours on an almost biblical scale. The third happened when that rainwater caused the River Great Ouse to reach its highest ever recorded level.
It is always foolhardy to ascribe individual weather events to the effects of climate change. However, these are precisely the type of "extreme weather events" that climate scientists have been warning us about and which will occur with increasing frequency as global temperatures rise. Not to mention the predicted widescale environmental, economic and humanitarian consequences that will inevitably follow if we don't act quickly.
But what can we do individually to reduce the future impact of climate change? I've had many conversations with people in St Neots who are desperate to do their part in reducing their own impact but are frustrated because they don't know where to start.
As always in St Neots, the solution starts in the community.
The recently announced Neot Zero initiative is a community-based scheme that aims to provide a realistic and achievable pathway to net-zero emissions for individual residents and businesses. Backed by local sustainability consultancy Energise Ltd, Neot Zero quantifies the impact of various high-carbon-emission activities and gives practical advice on reducing them.
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Neot Zero helps answer questions such as 'what would be the carbon impact of eating less meat'?" or 'should I change to more energy-efficient light bulbs'? or 'can I wash my clothes at a lower temperature'? This allows you to make informed decisions about the value of steps you take, compared with the cost or inconvenience of making them.
Waterside Green Energy is a community organisation committed to generating low carbon electricity and ploughing any profits back into the community. They are currently investigating the feasibility of installing a water turbine on the Ouse. They will eventually invest in community solar and wind provision.
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The Grow Wild group is dedicated to planting trees, re-wilding shared spaces, and sustainable community food production in St Neots. They have already planted more than 600 new trees in the past year and plan to plant many more.
It's easy to feel powerless in the face of a global problem the size of climate change. Community schemes such as these give us all the opportunity to address our individual impact and, perhaps more importantly, demonstrate to politicians and policymakers that there is passion and enthusiasm for addressing the wider problem of CO2 emissions.