Planet Earth, Be My Valentine

Dear Humankind,

Happy Valentine’s Day

Love, Planet Earth

What will you get this Valentine’s Day? Flowers? Chocolates? Perhaps you’ll be able to spend time with someone close to you. A romantic sunset meal or stroll through a beautiful park?

Maybe you are one of many who feel resentful about all the “love in the air” on February the 14th. Perhaps you celebrate ‘Galentine’s Day’ instead by spending time with the galls. Or the men’s equivalent: ‘Malentine’s Day’… is this getting a little out of hand?

Here at Climate Action Preston we’d like to suggest an alternative. By all means share the love with your nearest and dearest (although we think it’s important to do this every day of the year), but perhaps this year you could consider where all those romantic gifts and experiences we mentioned actually come from. Those flowers? The ingredients for that box of chocolates? The sunset? The park? Mother Nature is responsible for all of it.

The planet shows us a lot of love. Unfortunately, it’s a bit unrequited. How often do we stop to consider what nature provides for us? And how often do we stop to consider what we should be giving back to nature?

Humankind has been exploiting Planet Earth. Our species have been the abusive and neglectful partner. This doesn’t apply across the board, some humans have made it their goal to love and celebrate our wonderful planet and some humans haven’t the means to make much of a difference either way. But some humans, the ones with vast wealth and influence, have caused unimaginable harm.

Now we’re facing the consequences. Flooding, fires, droughts, rising seas, deadly air, animals disappearing forever… Our planet is trying to tell us something. She’s doing her best to support us, provide for us and fill our home with beauty but she’s beginning to struggle. Soon global temperatures will have risen to the point where the crops we grow for food can’t survive. And that’s just one of the likely consequences of climate change.

So here’s our proposal for this Valentine’s Day. Ditch the consumerism. Instead:

  1. Take a moment to really look at what the planet has given you. Take the time to appreciate the natural world all around you today and feel the love.
  2. Consider what you could do to reciprocate. Write to your MP to ask how they are tackling climate change, sign a petition, do a bit of your own research on the issues. Have a go at taking the bus, cooking a vegetarian meal or look into switching to a renewable energy provider for your home. There’s even a Climate Strike event on Valentine’s Day which anyone can come to. There’s so much you can do to love the planet you call home. Just pick one thing to get started.
  3. Get in touch and tell us what you did to love the planet. You can tweet your love story and tag us @PrestonAction, comment on this blog post or email us at climateactionpreston@gmail.com to share how you showed you care.

We’re really looking forward to hearing your stories.

With love,

Climate Action Preston, on behalf of Planet Earth

Preston’s Climate Emergency

In April 2019 Preston City Council declared a climate emergency. Over 200 other councils have done the same. Why? Because experts reckon we have about 11 years to turn climate change around if we’re to avoid meeting tipping points which will inevitably result in extreme weather changes. As the Preston Climate Emergency Motion states:

Children in Preston will be in their teens and twenties in 11 years’ time. They deserve a liveable Preston. We must act now to ensure this.

You can read the full Motion from Preston here.

Councils who are declaring climate emergencies are committing to make their activities net-zero carbon by 2030. This means any carbon emissions will have to be completely balanced out by carbon removal.

The UK as a whole has a target of net-zero carbon by 2050, but experts say this will be much too late.

The Motion is ambitious in its aims, as it needs to be, but it recognises that Preston will need significant financial resources in order to achieve these aims and this money will need to come from central government.

Friends of the Earth have a tool on their website which allows us to look at how well our local areas are doing in terms of tackling climate change. A summary of the results for Preston are as follows:

  • 5% of Preston is woodland. The highest proportion in similar areas is 19%. The UK should aim to double its tree cover.
  • 30% of commuter journeys in Preston are on public transport. Preston should aim for 70% by 2030.
  • 38% of Preston homes are well insulated. This needs to increase to 100% by 2030.
  • 30% of household waste is reused, composted or recycled. Preston should aim for 70% by 2025.
  • Preston has 14 megawatts of renewable energy available. 100% of Preston’s energy should be green.

And here’s a summary of the targets for Preston from Friends of the Earth:

  • Cease supporting or promoting new high carbon infrastructure, such as roads or airports
  • Annual emissions reductions – 13%
  • Homes to insulate per year – 3,356
  • Number of eco-heating systems, such as heat pumps, to fit each year – 1,996
  • Proportion of commuters walking, cycling or using public transport by 2030 – 70%
  • Increase lift-sharing – major employers should aim to have 40% of their staff who travel to work by car doing so by lift-sharing
  • Electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 – at least 58 stations
  • Renewable energy – at least 105MW
  • Trees – Aim for 20% tree cover
  • Household waste reuse, recycling and composting by 2025 – 70% (on path to reach zero waste as soon as possible)
  • Divestment – zero investment in fossil fuel companies as soon as possible.

If Preston is going to achieve all of this then we all need to be on board and support our City Council to make climate change a priority. They need to take the word ’emergency’ seriously and start directing funds towards this right now.

At Climate Action Preston, one of the things we can do to help is try to get our Council to adopt the Friends of the Earth Climate Action Plan. This is a 50 point plan which sets specific targets for what councils need to do in order to reach the 2030 net zero goal. The idea is not for Preston City Council to adopt it exactly as is, but to consider which actions are relevant to the city and which need altering or adding to for us.

So what can you do? Take a look at the plan and pick you top action. Which action would you most like to see Preston City Council tackle as an urgent priority? Why is this particular action important to you? What positive changes do you envisage if the council adopt that action? Let us know what you think and we can take your ideas to the council. Get in touch by commenting or email us at climateactionpreston@gmail.com.

You can also email your Councillor directly about the issue of climate change. Find your local Councillor here. Or email Robert Boswell, who is the Cabinet Member for the Environment: cllr.r.boswell@preston.giv.uk. Let us know if you get a response!

The Climate Election, Post 5 of 5: Brexit Party

The Brexit Party have chosen not to release a manifesto. Their website has a policies section but climate change is not mentioned even in passing. In fact, a search of their website reveals the word “climate” only comes up once in a brief paragraph about one of their MEPs.

The only things relevant to climate change that I could find were under their investment policy section:

The Brexit Party is developing policies in a number of areas that can only be implemented via a Clean-Break Brexit: investing in and supporting key public services, protecting the environment and growing recycling initiatives, and other targeted investments in fishing and strategic industries.

Invest in Fishing and Coastal Communities: with a Clean-Break Brexit we recover full control of our waters, a huge opportunity to regenerate our coastal communities with new investment, jobs and tourism. The Boris EU treaty does NOT return control of our territorial waters.

Invest in the Environment and Recycling: we need to plant tens of millions of trees and ensure we recycle our waste in this country and not export it across the world to be burnt.

profile photo of Rob Sherratt
Rob Sherratt is the Brexit Party candidate for Preston

So what would a vote for The Brexit Party look like in Preston? Well Preston is a “safe Labour seat” so it’s very unlikely that The Brexit Party will overtake them, but votes for any party are still counted and added to statistics at both the local and national level. So a vote for The Brexit Party would send a message to whoever is elected that you support Brexit Party policies.

Please Note

Climate Action Preston is an apolitical group. We don’t favour any one political party over another. That’s why I’ll be looking in the same way at all the available manifestos of the parties represented by Preston candidates over the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to tell you how to vote because that has to be an individual decision, but please consider the climate when you do vote. That could mean deciding on your candidate, and then emailing/tweeting them to say something like this:

“I think I want to vote for you on the 12th December, but first I want to know what you intend to do about climate change if you are elected to represent me.”

If you do tweet, we’d love to be tagged: @PrestonAction #PrestonClimateElection

The Climate Election, Post 4 of 5: Conservatives

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Here is the Conservative manifesto.

On an introductory page, there is a list of Boris Johnson’s ‘guarantees’ which includes:

Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

Half of page 45 mentions reducing waste and planting trees under the heading “Stewards of our environment”.

The manifesto is 64 pages long. 1 page (page 57) is devoted specifically to climate change policy. Included are points about reducing plastic pollution, deforestation, electric vehicle infrastructure, clean energy, jobs in clean growth and making buildings more energy efficient. There’s not really enough space on that one page to say much about how they intend to see these things through though, other than that they will spend a lot of money.

Michele Scott is the Conservative candidate for Preston, but whocanivotefor.co.uk doesn’t have her picture, which is where I’ve found photos of the other candidates.

So what would a vote for the Conservatives look like in Preston? Well Preston is a “safe Labour seat” so it’s unlikely that the Conservatives will knock Labour out of the top spot, but a vote for the Conservatives will still be counted and added to local and national statistics, sending a message to whoever does gain power that you support Conservative policies.

Please Note

Climate Action Preston is an apolitical group. We don’t favour any one political party over another. That’s why I’ll be looking in the same way at all the available manifestos of the parties represented by Preston candidates over the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to tell you how to vote because that has to be an individual decision, but please consider the climate when you do vote. That could mean deciding on your candidate, and then emailing/tweeting them to say something like this:

“I think I want to vote for you on the 12th December, but first I want to know what you intend to do about climate change if you are elected to represent me.”

If you do tweet, we’d love to be tagged: @PrestonAction #PrestonClimateElection



The Climate Election, Post 3 of 5: Lib Dems

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Here’s the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

Their introduction includes the following paragraphs about climate change:

A Liberal Democrat government will take urgent action to save our planet. We are the last generation that can stop irreversible climate change. We’ve already seen how foods and wildfires are becoming an ever more regular occurrence in our country. And, though we should be proud to be the first country to declare a climate emergency, we cannot ignore the fact that the government has done little else since then. In the meantime, it’s been young people who have consistently put the climate crisis back on the agenda with their inspirational climate strikes.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a radical, credible and detailed plan to tackle the climate emergency as soon as possible. We will deliver a ten-year emergency programme to cut greenhouse gas emissions substantially straightaway and phase out emissions from the remaining hard-to-treat sectors by 2045 at the latest. By 2030 we will generate 80 per cent of our electricity from renewables and 8 Liberal Democrat Election Manifesto 2019 cut energy bills and emissions by insulating homes, prioritising bringing 3.5 million households out of fuel poverty by 2025.

They have a 10-page section on climate change policy (their manifesto is 100 pages in total). Here’s their list of top priorities:

Our first priorities in the next parliament will be:

● An emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty.

● Investing in renewable power so that at least 80 per cent of UK electricity is generated from renewables by 2030 – and banning fracking for good.

● Protecting nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.

● Investing in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring that all new cars are electric by 2030.

profile photo of Neil Darby
Neil Darby is the Lib Dem candidate for Preston

So what will a vote for the Lib Dems mean in Preston? Well Preston is a “safe Labour seat” meaning that based on the general election in 2017 it’s very unlikely that the Liberal Democrats will overtake Labour and win the vote. However, a vote for a party like the Lib Dems is still counted and added to both local and national statistic. It sends a message to whoever does end up in power that there is support for Lib Dem policy.

Please Note

Climate Action Preston is an apolitical group. We don’t favour any one political party over another. That’s why I’ll be looking in the same way at all the available manifestos of the parties represented by Preston candidates over the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to tell you how to vote because that has to be an individual decision, but please consider the climate when you do vote. That could mean deciding on your candidate, and then emailing/tweeting them to say something like this:

“I think I want to vote for you on the 12th December, but first I want to know what you intend to do about climate change if you are elected to represent me.”

If you do tweet, we’d love to be tagged: @PrestonAction #PrestonClimateElection

P.S. Neil Darby for the Lib Dems has been the only candidate so far to sign up to the Friends of the Earth Climate Action Pledge on Twitter.

The Climate Election, Post 2 of 5: Labour

Here’s Labour’s 2019 manifesto.

The Foreword mentions that this is a “climate election” among other things, and goes on to state:

We will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution to tackle the climate emergency by shifting to renewable energy, investing in rail and electric cars, and making housing energy efficient, to reduce fuel poverty and excess winter deaths.

We will create a million climate jobs in every region and nation of the UK – good, skilled jobs that will bring prosperity back to parts of our country neglected for too long.

The manifesto then has 14 pages-worth of information about how they will tackle climate change related issues (it’s 107 pages long in total). I’ve taken the headings and introductory paragraph from each section, but please read the full yourself if you think you’d like to vote for them.

Economy and Energy: This election is about the crisis of living standards and the climate and environmental emergency. Whether we are ready or not, we stand on the brink of unstoppable change.

Sub headings for this section are:

  • Investment
  • Levelling up across the country
  • Energy
  • Ownership
  • Industry and innovation
  • Skills

Transport: Labour will build a sustainable, affordable, accessible and integrated transport system, founded on the principle that transport is an essential public service

Environment: A Labour government’s Green Industrial Revolution is complemented by our Plan for Nature. Our commitments to ecosystem repair and environmental protections work hand in hand with sustainable jobs and industries, and social justice.

Sub headings:

  • A healthy environment
  • Nature restoration
  • Land
  • Food
  • Waste and recycling
profile photo of Mark Hendrick
Sir Mark Hendrick: Preston candidate for Labour (and current MP)

So what would a vote for Labour look like in Preston? Well Preston is a “safe Labour seat”. Labour got 24,210 votes in the 2017 general election. The next most popular party was the Conservatives with 8,487 votes. It’s highly unlikely that the numbers will change enough to knock Labour out of the top spot. A vote for Labour in Preston increases Mark Hendrick’s mandate and provides evidence of his strong public support.

Please Note

Climate Action Preston is an apolitical group. We don’t favour any one political party over another. That’s why I’ll be looking in the same way at all the available manifestos of the parties represented by Preston candidates over the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to tell you how to vote because that has to be an individual decision, but please consider the climate when you do vote. That could mean deciding on your candidate, and then emailing/tweeting them to say something like this:

“I think I want to vote for you on the 12th December, but first I want to know what you intend to do about climate change if you are elected to represent me.”

If you do tweet, we’d love to be tagged: @PrestonAction #PrestonClimateElection



The Climate Election, Post 1 of 5: Greens

With a general election looming, we have a valuable opportunity to engage our politicians in the debate about climate change. Brexit is usually the top news story when it comes to politics, but climate change is a much bigger deal. Climate change affects everyone on the planet – people, animals and plant life. If we don’t act quickly and drastically to keep the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic and outside our control. As individuals there’s a lot we can do, but our political leaders are the ones with the most power to make big, impactful changes. It’s essential that they act on climate change first and foremost.

In the Preston constituency, we have five candidates standing for election:

  • Mark Hendrick is the current MP and will be standing again for Labour
  • Michele Scott for the Conservatives
  • Michael Welton for the Greens
  • Neil Darby for the Lib Dems
  • Rob Sherratt for the Brexit Party

You can find their contact details by entering a Preston postcode here.

Up until December the 12th, Climate Action Preston will be in touch with all five candidates, demanding to know what they intend to do about climate change if they are elected.

Preston is a “safe Labour seat”, meaning that based on the last general election in 2017, it’s fairly easy to predict that Labour will win the vote in this constituency. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother to engage with local politics. Whoever is elected is going to represent us, the people of Preston, whenever they vote in Parliament. We want them all to know that we expect to see climate change at the top of their political agendas.

Climate Action Preston will be doing this in a number of ways:

  1. We’re currently in the process of organising a climate change hustings. I’ll share the details as soon as they’re confirmed. I’ll be looking for questions to be submitted by the public in advance.
  2. We’ll be asking each candidate to sign up to Friends of the Earth’s climate change pledge. You can use your social media power to do the same. Keep an eye on our twitter account if you want to see exactly what we mean.
  3. In this blog I’ll be exploring each political party’s manifesto to investigate their policies relating to climate change. You can subscribe to be kept up to date with the latest posts.

At the time of writing, only the Green Party have released a manifesto, so I’m starting with them.

Their foreword states:

Above all, the climate and environmental emergency rages from the Amazon to the Arctic. The science is clear – the next ten years are probably the most important in our history.

Then the first section of their executive summary:

To tackle the Climate Emergency, and deliver social justice, we propose:

The Green New Deal

The Green New Deal will invest in our shared future, funding improvements in:

Energy: including the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy.

Housing: including the provision of better insulation for all homes that need it, the delivery of major heating upgrades for 1 million homes a year and the creation of 100,000 new energy efficient council homes a year.

Transport: including the delivery of a public and sustainable transport revolution, which will allow people to travel cheaply and safely on new trains, buses, cycleways and footpaths.

Industry: including support for businesses to decarbonise and the provision of training to give people skills to access millions of new green jobs.

Food, Farming & Forestry: including the planting of 700 million trees and support for healthy and sustainable food and farming systems.

Incomes: including the creation of a Universal Basic Income, paid to all UK residents to tackle poverty and give financial security to everyone.

New green homes, new green transport and new green jobs will get us on track to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and provide new opportunities for everyone to live happier and more secure lives. This will be a combined investment of over £100 billion a year in the Green New Deal, with an additional investment in Universal Basic Income.

The manifesto then goes on to use 20 pages (not including pages of images) to break down exactly what they would do for each of these points.

I would like to point out that the manifest is 92 pages long in total – climate policies are only a part of the party’s plans, but they feature heavily and have priority.

profile photo of Michael Welton
Michael Welton: The Green Party candidate for Preston

So what would a vote for the Green Party look like in Preston? Well it would almost certainly not result in a Green MP for Preston, because as I mentioned above, we’re a “safe Labour seat”. But votes for other parties are still counted up and added to local and national statistics. A vote for a party like the Greens send a message to whoever does become our MP that there are people in Preston who care about Green Party policy, which includes a lot on climate change.

Please Note

Climate Action Preston is an apolitical group. We don’t favour any one political party over another. That’s why I’ll be looking in the same way at all the available manifestos of the parties represented by Preston candidates over the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to tell you how to vote because that has to be an individual decision, but please consider the climate when you do vote. That could mean deciding on your candidate, and then emailing/tweeting them to say something like this:

“I think I want to vote for you on the 12th December, but first I want to know what you intend to do about climate change if you are elected to represent me.”

If you do tweet, we’d love to be tagged: @PrestonAction #PrestonClimateElection

A (Very) Brief Look at Climate Change

Climate change is a massive issue with a lot of contributing factors. It’s not a simple and easy matter to understand. Luckily, there’s plenty of information out there to help us get our heads round it.

I’ve known the basics for some time now: we release too much carbon dioxide into the air which traps heat from the sun in our atmosphere, causing the greenhouse effect (read more here).

7 August 2011 So... why should you care about the study of ...
Image from Polar Trek

But I’m just starting to get into the nitty gritty of what really happens as a result of all these nasty emissions.

The increasing global temperature is very dangerous. It’s melting ice caps which creates a rising sea level and disrupts ocean currents creating havoc for marine life (read more here). Then ocean acidification also harms living things in our seas.

Ocean Acidification - Deep Maps: West Cork Coastal Cultures
Image from EPA

Rising temperatures mean more water evaporates into the air and the warmer air means clouds act differently, causing more heavy rain and snowfall which is already leading to increased flooding as well as ruining soil quality (because of the water evaporating out of the soil) and slowing plant growth which is bad for crops we use for food. For more on this go here. We’ll also see more droughts and hurricanes.

Image from the EPA

Unfortunately, it’s the poorest people in the world who will be worst affected by climate change, despite the fact that they contribute the least towards it. Developing countries aren’t as well-prepared to combat the effects of climate change and millions of the world’s poorest are already being displaced because of droughts, other extreme weather and rising sea levels encroaching on their land.

Climate Refugees: No International Definition, Recognition ...
Climate Refugees: image from NPR

A whole lot of wildlife is threatened by climate change and some species have already died out. If we value biodiversity and the rich natural world then we need to protect it. Temperatures are rising too quickly for many species to adapt and their habitats are changing too rapidly. Read about some of the impacts of climate change on animals here.

Image from the Met Office.

It’s scary. Really scary. But we have the power and the solutions to turn this around as long as we act urgently.

Preston City Council declared a climate emergency back in April 2019 but is the term ’emergency’ being taken seriously?

If you can, please join Climate Action Preston to work together towards a green future for Preston. If you’re not able to join us, consider what you can do as an individual to reduce your carbon footprint. The two most effective measures the average person can take involve looking at their travel and their diet and I’ll be discussing these actions in the next post.

Calling All Prestonians

Be the Change

Be the change you want to see in the world.

— Gandhi.

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish school girl, has inspired millions across the world to protest against climate change. But she argues that it shouldn’t be her striking from school, it should be the adults taking action; the world leaders making drastic changes to their policies and practices .

As a mother of young children, I worry that in a few years time her words could be echoed by my children as they become aware of the extent of the climate crisis and challenge me about my own actions. I don’t want to be part of the problem; I want to be part of the solution. I want to protect my children’s futures. So many of the daily choices I make will either tackle climate change or contribute to it. Suddenly the choice to take a stand against climate change and work to protect my planet seems a far more important parental decision than which is right primary school or when to go back to work.

Climate change is already affecting people across the world. People are already dying as a result of the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere. I’m no expert in the science, but there are plenty of people who are experts and they are imploring us to take urgent action on a really big scale to address the problem. As an individual, it can feel as though my actions won’t even begin to make a difference in the face of such an extreme situation. But everything I do makes a difference for better or for worse. And the more I talk about my actions, the more other people will be encouraged to make changes of their own, or to share their own Eco Warrior success stories. Individuals quickly become communities who become nations. Eventually, the world is going to have to work together to fight for our survival and the sooner individuals catch on to this, the better.

I’m just one person, but Climate Action Preston is my way of reaching out to others who want to make a positive difference. Soon we’ll be a community fighting for tomorrow.

Will you join me?