As we get into the New Year proper, we take a quick look at what the challenges and opportunities are, and what we could collectively do about it.
The floods over Christmas reminded us once again just how precarious our environment can be at times. Climate change almost certainly means that events like these will become more frequent over the coming years and the resources and resilience of local communities will be tested to the full.
Globally, air pollution has been called a worldwide ‘public health emergency’ with millions estimated to die each year. Scientists have also advised us that we are entering the sixth great extinction of animal species with the extinction rate estimated to be 100 times higher in the 20th century than it would have been without man’s impact.
So, after the disappointment and failure of previous climate meetings, the world looked towards Paris COP21 at the end of 2015, to at least give us a glimmer of hope. And, to a certain extent, it did. Although some will argue that it didn’t give us enough hope.
Most scientists believe that the plan, to keep global temperatures to no more than 2c, ideally 1.5c, has the potential to work. Whether it will is a completely different matter.
Despite what was signed and agreed upon in Paris by a government who briefly tried to convince us it would be the ‘greenest ever’, our government have continued to cut away at renewables whilst offering further financial support for the fossil fuel industry. Solar subsidies have been slashed, potentially wiping out over half of all solar industry jobs in one go, whilst at the same time dramatically increasing the subsidies given to the fossil fuels. It’s not been a good start.
But, if the future success of the Paris agreement remain uncertain there is one thing that we can guarantee and that is, if we leave climate action to others, then Paris will also turn into failure. And it will simply be left to us to explain to our children and grandchildren that we potentially had the chance but failed take it.
So, it is clear from Paris that there is a lot we can and should do – individually, locally, nationally and internationally. And what is becoming clearer is the vital role that community led grassroots action will play in this.
Transition New Mills was set up in a few years ago and our focus, as ever, is looking after our shared natural and environmental resources, reducing our energy needs and carbon emissions, supporting appropriate jobs and resources and strengthening community involvement, creativity, confidence and pride in the Town.
2015 was a very productive year for us;
- we led the incredibly successful balsam bashing project as we continue to aim for a balsam free New Mills thus allowing native species to bloom once again,
- we’ve collaborated with Thornsett School in the planting of hundreds of new trees on the Derby Road playing fields,
- worked on a County-wide campaign to try and convince Derbyshire County Council to divest pension funds out of the fossil fuel industry,
- collaborated with Moors For The Future in offering vital bumblebee survey training around Kinder,
- looked into the viability of a community energy project,
- actively lobbied local MP, Andrew Bingham, and delivered a letter and petition regarding the recent Paris talks – we will keep up the pressure on him!
- sent a series of green questions to all of our local parliamentary hopefuls before the General Election,
- promoted local ventures such as ‘How Does Your Garden Grow?’ and Torrside Brewery as well as raising awareness about local and not so local green issues.
It’s been a busy year!
This year, we plan to build upon this; an Incredible Edible type project in New Mills, looking into the viability of a High Peak food hub and exploring the idea of a ‘Freshers’ Fair’ type event for community groups in New Mills.
Are these things that you would like to help set up or support? But what about transport? What about recycling? What about a community energy project? How can we support our local high street?
Interested? We need as many people as possible to get involved in Transition New Mills because this is your project, your chance to help shape your town and our future. So, we are also going to make it even easier to become a supporter of Transition New Mills this year, and it‘ll only cost you as much as you want to give – more details as we approach our AGM in late spring / early summer.
Paris showed us once and for all that the cavalry may never come. But what happens if we decide that we are the cavalry? If enough people do, we can make a real impact. So, join us. Join us in trying to create a future whose viability can no longer be ignored. Join us and together we can see just where this may take us.