Last Friday I was delighted to host the Wiltshire Climate Summit. This was an opportunity to hear from a range of local businesses, experts and concerned residents about what we can do, locally and nationally, to combat climate change.
Speakers included Minette Batters, President of the NFU and herself a Wiltshire farmer, former COP26 President Claire Perry O'Neill, and the Prime Minister's envoy to business for the net zero target Andrew Griffith MP. We were also joined by representatives of Wiltshire's largest organisations, the county council and the Army - namely Richard Clewer, deputy leader of Wiltshire Council and General Richard Nugee, the Ministry of Defence lead on climate change.
As well as the presentations from local environment groups (Sustainable Devizes, the Wiltshire Climate Alliance and the Devizes Climate Change Lobby) I particularly appreciated the input from younger people, including Evangeline Rowe from the Wiltshire Climate Alliance Youth Group, and Joe Brindle. Joe is a student who is leading a national campaign to have climate science taught more fully in schools, as part of the curriculum. His presentation was perhaps the best received of all and I look forward to helping him make his case to ministers.
My thanks to all our guests - from Emma Dawnay, radical economist and Green Party member, to Tim Wade, local farmer and skeptic about the costs and economic implications of the net zero target, and consultants Juliet Davenport and Gemma Batten - and to the moderators of our panel sessions: Nick Gibbins of New Resource Partners, Ariane Crampton of Wiltshire Council, and Paul Cottington of the NFU.
Personally I was inspired by the innovation and energy that the Summit exposed. Reaching net zero by 2050 will involve not just great effort, and perhaps sacrifices, but the realisation of great opportunities. Net zero by 2005 means reducing emissions by 11% a year - and bearing in mind when the economy all but stopped for nearly a year in 2020, emissions only fell by 8%. So we need to be smart about how to achieve this transition justly - without reducing prosperity or wellbeing especially for those on low incomes. The answer is sensible regulation, innovation in the economy, and good consumer choices.
The Summit raised a range of ideas to take forward and I look forward to working with participants to advance these. As we approach COP26 I want Wiltshire voices to be heard in the national debate, and to celebrate the brilliant work that is already going on in the county.
A recording of the morning session can be viewed above, or here: https://youtu.be/q1WHAQTSUDQ, and the afternoon session can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/6egr0kpFR7o, and these also include slides shown by the speakers. The chat logs for attendees can also be downloaded below.