Churn Churches Climate Action Group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COP26 has taken place but Climate Change persists! Spend some time now eliminating drafts around doors and windows to have a cosy Christmas. Wrap up warm!

It seems that our politicians have not yet grasped the nettle to make the path to net zero high up in their priorities. Please take every opportunity to make the point that ‘no action on this = no votes!’ I quote from Caroline Lucas MP at a Parliamentary Debate on Tuesday, ‘Wellbeing Economy Approach to meeting climate goals’:

Let us take one simple way of looking at this. A report comes out from the Treasury called “HM Treasury Outcome Delivery Plan”. It is the key departmental document setting out priority outcomes and activities. It has just one paltry mention of climate and just one reference to decarbonisation. It makes no mention at all of biodiversity, but it has 17 mentions of growth. The Government are still subsidising fossil fuels annually to the tune of around £12 billion, and there is still on the statute book a duty to maximise the economic recovery of oil and gas.

 

Highlights from previous Churns:

COP 26 Achievements and Gaps

 

These thoughts have been garnered from a webinar on 18th November chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, Professor Stephen J Toope. COP 26 may be seen in history as the beginning of a new era ‘post fossil fuel’. This is the dawn of the Green Industrial Revolution.

 

Achievements of COP 26:

More than 160 World leaders and thousands of influential representatives spent two weeks together focussed on climate change. The Paris rule book has been improved; we are beginning to move Paris ambition into action. The coalition of philanthropists to achieve methane control was itself a significant development. The agreement mentions the role of young people; youth now has status as a constituent at the UN. There was a Global youth statement from the representatives of 140 countries.

 

The agreement to come back next year to COP 27 is crucial. We need to decide how to accelerate the transition from ambition to action. Progress at COP 26 where all pledges might achieve 1.8 degrees is not enough; we need next year firmer targets to get to 1.5, but 1.5 degrees is still alive! The era of new clean solutions is upon us. The Forest and Methane agreements are significant.

 

The issue of supporting vulnerable people and a just transition is beginning to be recognised, but not yet starkly enough for Western politicians to provide the necessary finance. There is a role for the electorate, especially young people, to engage politicians so that they don’t think they will fail to get re-elected by directing money towards climate justice.

 

The role of Universities in the conference was notable. Politicians are beginning to include Science in decision making.

 

Gaps:

This COP did not address the detail needed. There was not enough emphasis on human rights. We all need more realisation of and education about the science. Connections between science and nature and people are not yet clear enough.

More work is needed on how to police achievement of targets. There is a role here for the media to hold political leadership ccountable.

Universities can help with technologies to monitor progress. An example is the digital expertise of the Cambridge centre for carbon credits. We can publish data from satellites backed by the AI to interpret it. 

 

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Chalk Streams. Camilla Burrow gave a stimulating talk on Chalk Streams in Blewbury. She told us of the conservation work to improve flow and encourage biodiversity and encouraged people to get involved. Please see https://www.blewburychalkstreams.org/ for more details.

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The Oxfordshire 2050 Plan. We agreed that the CCCA should join the Oxfordshire Need not Greed Campaign. See http://www.neednotgreedoxon.org.uk/campaign. The aim of this group is to discuss the unrealistic housing targets for Oxfordshire and promote our rural community. All constituents are urged to write to their District and County Councillors to ask that the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan be restructured to promote sustainability rather than its existing objective of maximising housing development. 

Write to or Email your Councilors and MP!

Please exert your influence as a constituent to help get the local planning process in Oxfordshire to emphasise sustainability rather than growth at any cost. Examples follow of emails to our local Councillors and our MP.

 

More detail is given in the attached supporting material. Please include material from this in your correspondence.

 

Emails addresses and links to see all the Council members of Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council and the Vale of White Horse District Council are at the bottom of this page.

Example email to Councilors.

Please use you own words to emphasise your personal concerns.

 

As a constituent of South Oxfordshire, I am very concerned about the lack of emphasis in the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 to make early progress towards Net Zero carbon emissions.

I am asking you to represent to the Council my concerns that the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 cannot be considered valid unless it is reworked to follow the principles outlined in the Environment Bill 2021 and the Government Heat and buildings strategy.

Please take every opportunity to vote for changes in the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 until these vital changes of direction are made. I hope you will feel that your constituents are solidly behind you in taking such action!

And please be very critical of the excess number of new homes being forced on Oxfordshire by Central Government and especially those implemented by developers in inappropriate places under the Government’s 5 year Land Supply policy. How can we, as your constituents, encourage you, our local Councillors, to face down this bullying by Whitehall?

Example email to our MP, David Johnston MP

Please use you own words to emphasise your personal concerns.

 

As your constituent living in ………….., I am very concerned about the lack of emphasis in the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 to make early progress towards Net Zero carbon emissions.

 

May I  thank you for all the behind the scene work that must have gone into the Environment Bill 2021- a very necessary and timely piece of legislation. Please do all you can to ensure that impact of this legislation is reflected in the Government and local planning processes.

 

The Heat and Buildings Strategy is also a great step forward, but the issue we still have to address is how this legislation can enable early progress towards net zero at local level. The present version of the Oxfordshire 2050 plan is still focussed on development targets rather than sustainability targets. The freedom of action of our local councillors, called for in the Heat and Buildings Strategy Section 4.2 is emasculated by previous policies such as the Government’s 5 year Land Supply policy. The leader of South Oxfordshire District Council has been instructed by  the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up raising the issue. See https://www.southoxon.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/10/Letter-to-DLUHC-Planning-.pdf. Any influence you can exert to return the local planning of sustainability and the control of development to local authorities will be greatly appreciated.

Supporting Material.

Here are some bullet points on points to make to County and District Councillors and our MP concerning the Oxfordshire Planning Process. It is very important that people use their own words to emphasise what they care about!

 

Request to Councilors to incorporate the Environment Bill 2021 and Government Heat and Buildings strategy in the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

  • The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 has been under development for several years. During that time, public awareness of the impact of climate change has increased, but the driving principles behind the plan have not changed to reflect this. The Plan is a huge endeavour, but can be likened to a super-tanker some 45 degrees off course. The present plan is focussed on growth at any cost; it must be redirected to focus on sustainable growth.
  • Events such as COP 26 clarify the need for humanity to mobilise to address climate change. Action is needed at all levels. An international framework of financial and behavioural rules; government pledges to achieve targets and to set the framework of taxing and regulations; local government to focus on sustainability; and our personal choices to use less carbon, which will drive business imperatives to satisfy these needs.
  • The Government Heat and buildings strategy clearly states the role of local Government. See page 110 et seq of the policy: "Local and devolved governments across the UK have a combination of democratic accountability, powers, assets, local knowledge and relationships with key stakeholders, and so can drive and co-ordinate local progress towards Net Zero in a way that maximizes the benefits to the communities they serve."
  • The Government Heat and Buildings strategy (19th October 2021) and the Environment Act 2021 (9th November 2021)  have been published too late to be included in the framework of legislation cited in the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. This is shown below. Indeed this crucial guidance was published after the latest round of public consultation on the Plan 2050 had closed (7th October 2021).
  • Action by our District and County Councillors to continue to move Oxfordshire towards net zero by 2050 is a crucial element of this framework. For instance, we must ensure that sewage treatment facilities are adequate before any more houses are built!
  • As constituents we need to exert pressure on our MPs to repeal legislation such as the Government’s 5 year Land Supply policy  in order to give our locally elected representatives the necessary freedom of action called for by the Heat and Buildings Strategy. The Environment Bill and The Heat and Buildings Strategy are a great step forward but the issue we still have to address is how this legislation can enable early progress towards net zero at local level. The present version of the Oxfordshire 2050 plan is still focused on development targets rather than sustainability targets. The freedom of action of our local councilors, called for in the Heat and Buildings Strategy Section 4.2 is emasculated by previous policies such as the Government’s 5 year Land Supply policy. The leader of South Oxfordshire District Council has been instructed by the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up raising this issue. See https://www.southoxon.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/10/Letter-to-DLUHC-Planning-.pdf. Any influence our MPs can exert to return the local planning of sustainability and the control of development to local authorities will be greatly appreciated.

 

Policy Framework

The Policy Framework in the version of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 made available for comment finishing on 7th October is as shown below. It is now vital that the Environment Act and the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy are included in this diagram and that the Bill and Strategy are implemented throughout the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

Addresses:

David Johnston MP: david.johnston.mp@parliament.uk (You should include in the email the fact that you are a constituent)

 

South Oxfordshire District Council (Click to see full list of Councillors)

Cllr Jane Murphy Cholsey ward SODC jane.murphy@southoxon.gov.uk

Cllr Anne-Marie Simpson Cholsey ward SODC and member of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Members sub-group  Anne-Marie.Simpson@southoxon.gov.uk

Cllr David Bretherton SODC Chair of Council, Chair of Planning Committee David.Bretherton@southoxon.gov.uk

Cllr Sam Casey-Rerhaye SODC Chair of Ecological and Emergencies Committee Sam.Casey-Rerhaye@southoxon.gov.uk

Cllr Sue Cooper Cabinet member for Environment, Climate Change and Nature Recovery

sue.cooper@southoxon.gov.uk

Cllr David Rouanie SODC Leader of the Council and voting member Future Oxfordshire Partnership (lately called the Oxfordshire Growth Board)  David.Rouane@southoxon.gov.uk

 

Vale of White Horse District Council

Cllr  Hayleigh Gascoigne Blewbury and Harwell Ward, Climate Emergency Advisory Committee Hayleigh.Gascoigne@whitehorsedc.gov.uk

Cllr Sarah Medley, Blewbury and Harwell Ward, Climate Emergency Advisory Committee, Sarah.Medley@whitehorsedc.gov.uk

Cllr David Grant, Chair Climate Emergency Advisory Committee, David.Grant@whitehorsedc.gov.uk

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of the Council and voting Member the Future Oxfordshire Partnership, (formerly the Oxfordshire Growth Board) emily.smith@whitehorsedc.gov.uk

Cllr Max Thompson Chair Planning Committee Max.Thompson@whitehorsedc.gov.uk

 

Oxfordshire County Council  (Click to see full list of Councillors and ‘find your Councillor’)                                                                                          

Cllr Felix Bloomfield Oxfordshire County Council Benson and Cholsey felix.bloomfield@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Cllr Liz Leffman Oxfordshire County Council Leader of council and voting member Oxfordshire Partenership (lately called the Oxfordshire Growth Board) liz.leffman@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Cllr Pete Sudbury Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change Delivery and Environment pete.sudbury@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Cllr Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council member of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Members sub-group  duncan.enright@westoxon.gov.uk