Northampton climate change group outlines what town needs to do after damning IPCC "code red for humanity" report

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An activist group has provided its plan for tackling climate change at a local level in Northampton

A climate activist group in Northampton has called for drastic change and outlined how the town can help slow the effects of global warming.

Climate Action – West Northamptonshire have spoke out after a a major UN scientific report on climate change has been described as “code red for humanity".

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The assessment from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a stark warning from scientists around the world that human activity is damaging the planet at an alarming rate.

Jane Wood, Chair of Climate Action – West NorthamptonshireJane Wood, Chair of Climate Action – West Northamptonshire
Jane Wood, Chair of Climate Action – West Northamptonshire

The report warns that climate change is already affecting every region across the globe and that without urgent action our planet could face serious consequences.

Climate Action – West Northamptonshire was asked by this newspaper:

Where does this leave us on a local level?

Jane Wood, Chair of Climate Action – West Northamptonshire, said: "Like the rest of the UK we have a great deal to do e.g. there has been very little progress made towards weaning our housing stock off fossil fuel heating; the Voi scooter scheme is a great innovation but our communities are still largely reliant on cars; planning policies and practices don’t support carbon reduction targets.

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"The new unitary authority has hit the ground running on the climate change agenda, but has some catching up to do because of the distraction of transitioning from the old district councils."

What should we be doing more of on a local level to tackle this?

Jane said: "Promotion of active travel – there was a consultation last year to identify where improvements are needed to make walking and cycling safer and more appealing, we need to move faster to implement these.

"Promotion of public transport – we need to ask whether the current provision really meets the needs of communities, and make changes where it doesn’t.

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"Working together across all sectors (local government, business, public services, community groups) to share ideas and join forces to implement change. Local government needs to work WITH the communities it represents – ask people what they want and what they can do.

"Preparing our communities for the impacts of climate change – we will see more extreme weather events leading to flooding and drought. There must be plans put in place so that we are resilient and able to respond rapidly and effectively to such events."

What does the general public need to be doing?

Jane said: "More of some things, less of other things!

More: Walking; cycling; taking public transport; switch to renewable energy; buy vintage/preloved instead of new; use up leftovers/past its best food instead of throwing it away; have meat-free days; shop local; buy peat free compost and plants grown in peat free compost; put pressure on your elected representatives to act; talk about the climate emergency.

Less: Driving; buying things you don’t really need; buying single use plastic – try to buy groceries with the least possible packaging, and if those choices aren’t available, tell your shop or supermarket they need to try harder; use pesticides and weedkiller; mowing your grass.

What does a low emission Northampton look like?

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Jane said: It is quieter and cleaner! There would be more bicycles/scooters/tricycles on the road than cars.

"Public transport would be electric and a flexible offering using smaller vehicles with a timetable responsive to the needs of users.

"The town centre would feel safer and more friendly as a result.

"Green spaces would be made into community orchards, gardens, wildlife patches and allotments instead of mown grass.

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"There would be more trees and shrubs in our streets and parks – the middle of Abington Street would be a mini park with raised beds filled with scented herbs and flowers.

"People would feel a sense of belonging and pride in their local area."

Anything else you'd like to add...

Jane said: "As is always the case, when we are hit with the effects of climate change, for example through extreme weather events or food insecurity, it will be the already vulnerable in our society who are hit hardest. The council has a responsibility to look after and support those who need it most, and this needs to be built into the climate action plan."

West Northamptonshire Council has been contacted for comment.