There are certain buzzwords which have become synonymous with the start of the 2020s – pandemic, parties at No10, England cricket batting collapses and of course… climate change.
Thankfully a 60-strong group of Richmondshire recyclers are fighting back and trying to make a difference in our lovely corner of North Yorkshire.
Two years ago Richmondshire Climate Action Partnership started with the broad intention of encouraging and developing green issues.
Back then a group of locals got in touch with Richmondshire District Council with a motion to engage with the community in a drive to reduce carbon footprints and improve local biodiversity. They were supported by Colburn’s Green Party councillor Kevin Foster and the motion was approved unanimously by the council.
In early 2021 the RCAP really cranked itself up, though only electrically, not using polluting petrol!
RCAP deputy chair Mike Sparrow takes up the story as he has been instrumental in trying to raise awareness in dealing with climate change.
Mike said: “The partnership was set up in 2019 but the council wanted to delay the actual start until they had a full-time paid climate change officer in place, which happened in March 2021. That officer, Valerie Adams, has been instrumental in our efforts to improve all aspects of environmentalism. We are taking one little step at a time, but thankfully progress is being made.
“One of the partnership’s roles is to get politicians to take seriously the threat that is so apparent and which affects everyone’s lives.”
The message certainly seems to be getting through as the partnership has four main areas which they are tackling.
Firstly, buildings. Mike and his fellow members are busy trying to encourage better home insulation, renewable energy such as solar panels and the use of heat pumps.
Their second issue is land management and that covers areas such as flood alleviation projects, tree planting and the re-growth of wild flowers.
Thirdly, the partnership looks at ways in which transport and travel can be environmentally improved. For instance, how can bus services be upgraded? Or car electrical points introduced more widely, along with better cycle routes across Richmondshire.
Mike said: “Anyone who lives in the Dales will tell you that you can get a bus to Richmond on a Tuesday and get one back on Thursday. It isn’t that bad, but sometimes it feels like it.”
Lastly, the partnership has a real interest in community projects such as recycling, and works alongside the Citizens’ Advice Bureau with ‘energy ambassadors’ – essentially individuals who can show locals how to save on their energy consumption.
All in all, RCAP have laudable intentions and Mike and his team of volunteers are determined to show that green is good.
“When I was a kid, like everyone else I didn’t stop to think about waste and how it was dealt with, but now we are hoping to ensure that all children grow up with environmental thoughts – knowing how and why we make the choices we do.”
The partnership is entirely separate from the council, although the climate change working group chair, Cllr Philip Wicks, is the link point for the locals.
“So far it has worked pretty well and we are trying our best to make a difference,” said Mike. “Although there is so much more that can still be done. We are living in a changing world and it is surely up to all of us to secure it for future generations. These are early days for RCAP and we are careful not to tread on other toes but we are trying to become more visible and we are very open to anyone who would like to get involved.”
RCAP held a festival of events in October aimed at encouraging environmental issues and plan to host plenty more next year.
Mike has one word to describe some of the scenes which we have all witnessed around the world, from plastic in our oceans to rubbish dumps the size of cities in some of the most picturesque places on the planet. Unfortunately, the decimation of the Amazon rainforests and fossil fuel pollution continues at a truly alarming pace.
“Horrific aren’t they,” he said. “We as individuals can all do our bit and hope that the politicians get the message.”
RCAP worked alongside two Richmondshire schools and asked pupils to write a poem on climate change.
One of those was by Amelia, from St Francis Xavier School, entitled ‘Do it this way!’
Do it this way!
The forests of trees
Full of vibrant meadows
And waterfalls gushing
Where the river flows
Why do you wish it away?
You pollute all the waters
And chop down the woods
You heat up the air
So, the river floods
Why do you make it this way?
The majestic Rhino
And African Wild dog
The great orangutan
And Panamanian Golden Frog
Why do you wish them away?
You poach the rhinos
For their ivory
And fell the rainforests
As far as the eye can see
Why do you make it this way?
You can recycle your paper
Or stop eating meat
Get renewable energy
And reduce the Earth’s heat
You can take your old clothes
To the Charity Shop
You can turn off the tap
Because this needs to stop!
Why don’t you do it this way?