Rotherham Climate Action aims to build back better to protect our planet

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As we look to rebuild our lives and the economy following the coronavirus pandemic, there has never been a better opportunity to make the climate change crisis a key part of the recovery plan and build back better.

Whether that’s making a conscious effort to recycle, supporting local businesses, being more mindful about eco-friendly practices at home, or signing a petition, Rotherham Climate Action is there to empower the local community to help lead the recovery.

Now is your chance to have a say on how Rotherham handles the environment healing process.

Spending more time at home during lockdown has undoubtedly made some people more aware of their own individual impact on the environment and attitudes are starting to change. We’ve bought food from local retailers, tried to waste less food, turned off lights and plug sockets, and appreciated the beauty of nature on our daily walks.

These small changes to individual behaviour can often lead to a large-scale impact – whether that’s reducing our town’s carbon footprint or boosting its economy – and Rotherham Climate Action want to ensure everyone has their own chance to protect our planet.

A homegrown initiative

The group was started earlier this year by Helen Francis and Ashley Cooke to provide Rotherham residents with an opportunity to voice their opinions on what the town’s climate change priorities should be.

Helen Francis, chair of Rotherham Climate Action

The pair met whilst travelling and saw how other countries had adapted their way of life to try and rectify global warming issues. Back home in Rotherham, they were inspired to make eco changes and wanted to join groups to share ideas from their journey.

With nothing in Rotherham, they joined Sheffield Friends of the Earth working on campaigns such as the clear air consultation and lobbying Sheffield City Region to declare a climate emergency.

Following backing of the national Friends of the Earth initiative, they were encouraged to start a group in Rotherham to widen the climate change message throughout other parts of South Yorkshire.

Think globally, act locally

We all know climate change is happening – it’s the defining issue of our generation. We can feel it in the record-breaking temperatures, see it in the rising sea levels, and experience it in the extreme weather patterns.

Scientists now agree that the increase in temperature seen over the past 50 to 100 years is due to human activities. Burning fuel to power factories, agriculture, and even sending food to landfill are changing the earth’s atmosphere, causing it to trap more heat than it used to and therefore leading to a warmer planet.

In October 2019, Rotherham Council declared a climate emergency, and while the ‘Carbon Action Plan’ is yet to be finalised, they have set a target to reduce the council’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and the wider borough by 2040.

For positive change to happen globally, we need to act locally. This means ensuring social and economic factors are considered, all community groups are engaged, and any barriers are reduced. RCA plan to work with parents, private business owners, public sector workers and politicians to restart the conversation and create a strategy here in Rotherham.

Helen, the chair of RCA says: “’Rotherham has amazing potential with many local businesses, a diverse make up and easy access to nature and wildlife. We are extremely keen to collaborate with and learn from others, ensuring we focus on individual journeys to deliver actions that benefit all communities no matter how big or small’.

How can you help fight climate change?

The main goal is to give the public the tools, knowledge and motivation to act more sustainably. To do this, they need to encourage local people to be involved in decision making and find out exactly what people want to do to help the cause.

Not everyone wants to write to their MP or protest, but there are all sorts of ways to get involved right from the comfort of your home.

Maybe you want to switch to a greener energy provider and would like more information about the best deals. Perhaps you’re looking to cycle more or get out walking and need access to local bike shops or nature trails. Some families might want to eat more sustainable produce and are looking for meat-free recipes, a local greengrocer or more information and education about where food comes from.

You might even want to save money while doing your bit to save the planet and RCA can give you tips on how to reduce your monthly bills and outgoings by being more eco-friendly.

Join the cause to build back better

The team is currently putting together a mailing list from which they will share advice and information and would like to see all range of groups get involved, especially the younger generation who they hope will bring innovative ideas.

They will also be working in collaboration with local businesses who promote eco-friendly products or practices to help boost the economy, as well as politicians to steer government decisions. Fellow member, David Foulstone, who is a member of Dinnington Eco Church and Green Party member who was a candidate at the last elections, is advising on how best to approach the politics of climate change.

If you would like to join the mailing list, email rotherhamclimateaction@gmail.com

You can also follow the movement on Facebook