Churt Environmental Charter: Net Zero by 2050
Background: Global, National, County, Borough and Partners
In June 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050, in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Doing so would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter.
Net zero refers to achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. The net-zero target recognises that there will be still be some emissions but that these need to be fully offset, predominantly through natural carbon sinks such as oceans and forests or even artificial carbon sinks. When the amount of carbon emissions produced are cancelled out by the amount removed, the UK will be a net-zero emitter.
Whilst the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, a second body, the Intergovernmental Science – Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has been more recently established to assess and advise on the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services provided to society. Nature’s ecosystem services regulate climate, air quality, water quality, agricultural yields and much more – so the work and recommendations of the two bodies are intrinsically linked to guide us to a sustainable future for life on Planet Earth.
The recently published Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity points out that Nature is therefore an asset, just as produced capital (roads, buildings and factories) and human capital (health, knowledge and skills) are assets. Biodiversity enables Nature to be productive, resilient and adaptable. Just as diversity within a portfolio of financial assets reduces risk and uncertainty, so diversity within a portfolio of natural assets increases Nature’s resilience to shocks, reducing the risks to Nature’s services.
Infographic of UK average household emissions (with historical shares).
Taken from The Catapult Report - Living Carbon Free (Figure 1)
In July 2019, Surrey County Council, declared a climate emergency, committing the County to becoming net zero carbon by 2050 at the latest, in line with national ambition and in so doing, recognised a significant opportunity to increase our energy efficiency, improve our resilience and deliver a greener, healthier society - see "Surrey's Climate Change Strategy" and the "Climate Change Delivery Plan" which sets out Surrey's priorities and actions for 2021-2025. Waverley Borough Council recognised the severe and imminent threat that climate change poses and have published their Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy and a Carbon Neutrality Action Plan for the Borough which aims for carbon neutrality by 2030.
Beyond the local government plans, Surrey Nature Partnership has a “Natural Capital Investment Plan” plus a report on “The State of Surrey’s Nature”, Surrey Hills has an “AONB Management Plan for 2020-2025” and Surrey Wildlife Trust has a 5 year strategic plan 2018-23 for “Restoring Surrey’s Nature” – and there are many more.
A Charter for Churt
In Churt, we live in an area endowed with an abundance of natural capital assets and an environmental heritage which is a treasure that we want our children and future generations to continue to enjoy. Churt Parish Council recognises that the time for more decisive action to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to support increased biodiversity in the interests of sustainability, economic, social, and health benefit is NOW. In support of achievement of these targets, we will:-
Hardwire the consideration of climate change and sustainability into all CPC decision making, including those which affect our own purchases and activities, as well as in commenting on planning applications. We will give weight to consideration of energy (the whole energy system of energy, transport, waste), carbon emissions and impact on the natural environment.
Work with SCC, WBC and local partners to facilitate and implement their climate emergency action plans where appropriate for our parish.
Work with the Surrey Nature Partnership, Surrey Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and local organisations to monitor local natural assets and to conserve biodiversity.
Work through the newly established Churt Environment Working Group of local residents (CHEWG) to encourage and where feasible support local households and businesses to reduce their carbon emissions and improve biodiversity and environmental sustainability. Initiatives and projects in the following areas will be launched over the coming months and input from residents on additional areas will be welcome:
Energy use at home: (Reduce electricity use and heat loss, switch to low carbon energy sources)
Transport and Travel: (Electric vehicles, other vehicle technologies, active travel, home-working)
Carbon Offsetting: (Trees, hedgerows, other carbon sinks, offsetting or low carbon project donation)
Tools: (Grant guidelines, carbon footprint calculator)
Environmental Stewardship: (Reduce/Reuse/Recycle/Eliminate, Pond Lane woodland, pollinator and wildlife protection, young people engagement, air and waterway quality, footpaths, biodiversity increase, horticulture, agriculture, litter, climate change risk mitigation).
This list is not a time limited action plan but rather a portfolio of action areas which will grow and evolve through time. Very many residents as well as our village organisations are well down the track, or even leading the charge in some of these action areas and their efforts are already making a big difference. CHEWG aims to enable and support that journey, so that by 2050, current Churt residents and those who follow us will have enhanced our sustainability and will have achieved carbon neutrality.
Myra Johnson, Churt Parish Council (Environment Portfolio), November 2020