Last Friday, many people across our region took part in global climate strikes. Our Low Carbon Officer, Katie Privett, shares the insight she gained from attending the strikes.
Last Friday, 20th September 2019, I went to the Climate Strikes in York. I was not striking, I was working, because my job is all about trying to address the concerns that were on display, not just in York and the UK but all over the world. Children and young adults have been shouting about their fears and anger over climate change inaction for over a year, taking to the streets for ‘Fridays For Future’ school strikes, and on Friday they asked workers and people across all sectors of society to join them. We wanted to take the opportunity to engage with this passionate community and get their thoughts on our action plans in driving for a carbon-neutral circular economy for York and North Yorkshire.
Accompanied by yet more enthusiastic young people, in our Growth Hub Helpdesk Adviser Erin and Circular Economy intern Max, we spoke to around 100 people over 3 hours, engaging them in discussions about our Local Energy and Circular Economy Strategies, discovering what were their favourite aspects and, importantly, how they want to engage with the LEP and these priorities as we go forwards.
We had an excellent range of feedback from school kids through professionals striking via an extended lunch break and retired residents, all of whom had really positive responses to our plans. Lots of feedback centred around renewables, recycling and transportation infrastructure, from relatively quick-to-fix issues such as demands for a kerbside ‘broader range of recycling options’ to more complex restructuring of the local and global economy, such as legislative ‘pressure to create repair strategies’ for businesses to improve circularity. There was also strong input on drastically improving housing quality and the idea of co-investment from government, business and people to deliver changes in the energy and natural landscape to sequester carbon.
Ways to engage was a trickier question for many to answer, although our very presence at the strike was met with an extremely positive response. Workshops about climate action at schools, Twitter Q&As with experts for wider reach, and engaging with existing community groups to deliver region-wide initiatives were some of the smart yet simple ways in which we can maximise the human capital available to deliver change at scale and at pace.
Another key piece of feedback was that the people we spoke to were pleased to hear we’re encouraging collaboration – across geographies, sectors and communities – to ensure our approach is strategic and streamlined. We’re taking another step on that journey this week, with Local Authority officers and members from across York and North Yorkshire getting together to discuss how best to lead by example in a climate emergency. This event is designed to tool up officers to be able to develop their own climate action plans in a way that shows leadership at a regional scale, bringing local government colleagues, businesses and communities along with them. As we go forward, we’ll be taking another piece of advice from our stakeholders and making sure we share the outputs of our events more often, engaging in open conversations wherever possible and ensuring that the LEP are visible and contactable as we spearhead this drive for a collective vision for a carbon-neutral circular Yorkshire by 2030.