This is a bit of a sad moment for me but it is time to formally step down from the Reading Climate Change Partnership (RCCP). It has been a real honour to serve everyone in Reading, and to play a part in getting us prepared for the biggest issue of our time. We have achieved some great things, which are nicely recognised with our addition to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) ‘A’ List on Climate Action.
In my Chairship (Apr 2018-20), I was so pleased to:
- commission our first adaptation plan;
- invigorate the new Reading Climate Action Network (ReadingCAN) so everyone can feel part of the organisation delivering action for Reading;
- create a new website for us;
- and work with the new ReadingCAN to develop our new Climate Emergency Strategy.
It was a big vision and I am really grateful for everyone who got engaged and helped make it happen. It was a lot around planning and getting everyone ready for a great start in delivering climate actions for the town. Of course things haven’t been that easy, and the first wave of Covid hit just as I handed the helm over to our new chairs, Tim and Tracey.
Learning from Covid
The virus has turned lives upside-down, and has made it harder for many of us to dedicate time to volunteering on climate action. As I write this we have yet another variant to worry about…fingers-crossed the vaccines will carry us through this winter. And fingers-extra-crossed that a cure will be found in the new year!
There is much to learn from this time of Covid. It goes to show how vulnerable we are to extreme events. And what a difference preparation makes. It also goes to show that we can pull together, make lifestyle changes, and get through things as a society. There are big links here to the risks we face from climate change in Reading. For example, we are vulnerable to extremes of heat and flooding. Hopefully the town continue to build its focus on adaptation and resilience.
There is a lot of talk about building back better post Covid. It is an important opportunity and I really hope that this will happen. There are huge social pressures that I worry about, and big pressures on public finances that are not helpful. Factoring in low carbon and climate resilience would make a massive difference though. A zero carbon, low climate-risk future is a cheaper and healthier future. Our Climate Action Network has an important role in helping to educate decision makers, businesses and the people; as well as changing policies and delivering action on the ground. Nurturing ReadingCAN is going to be so important. Finding money and jobs is going to be key to deliver the scale and ambition we need. But we must also continue to value and embrace the voluntary support for the ReadingCAN.
I will still be part of ReadingCAN
On that note, I am still keen to help as part of the ReadingCAN. In my day job, I am looking forward to understanding what the new set of future river flow projections (coming early next year) mean for us. This will help us deliver some of the actions from the Water theme. I am also keen to develop ideas on urban adaptation, which will benefit from having a bit more time on my hands.
Farewell from the Environment Agency
I have been representing the Environment Agency (EA) on the RCCP board. The EA will also be stepping down now. As ever, resources are tight and we need focus on to deliver our core responsibilities for flood risk management and environmental regulation. However, it has been really good to have had these years working with Reading. Between myself and my predecessor Sally Coble, we have given the partnership 2 chairs, and a lot of time, energy and passion.
It is worth noting that colleagues of mine from the EA are part of ReadingCAN, and will continue to be a part: sometimes formally, where is crosses over with the day job; but also for the love of this town that we live in.
Looking at the attendees list for tomorrow’s RCCP board meeting, I am really pleased to see how the board has grown. It is in a strong place despite everything we’ve been through.
To the board, and to everyone else in the Climate Action Network, I wish you all really well. In 30 years, am looking forward telling my grandchildren about about the small part I played in getting us ready for climate change. Your success is key to making that a good story – it is so important for all of our futures.
“You are the community now. Be a lamp for yourselves. Be your own refuge. Seek for no other. All things must pass. Strive on diligently. Don’t give up.” ― Buddha