'Time to get serious about climate crisis', warn campaigners

What will 2022 bring in the Royal Borough's battle against climate change?

“2022 is the year when everyone in the Royal Borough needs to get serious about the environment and climate emergency.”

That is the view of the RBWM Climate Emergency Coalition (CEC) group, which has set out some of its hopes for the coming year.

“We are already nearly three years into our local emergency and we have a massive job to do if we are to meet the targets we have been set in the council’s strategy”, says group member Dave Scarbrough.

“It’s good to see some progress across the borough - but it is way short of where we need to be.

“We are calling on everyone in the community to start thinking seriously about the contribution we can each make as we start a new year”.

The most significant target set by the council is to reduce carbon emissions across the borough by 50 per cent from the 2020 level, by 2025, in line with national targets.

A report from the Royal Borough on its performance in 2021 is due soon and will show how much progress has been made towards this.

“There is no doubt that this will show that we still have a long way to go and 2025 is only three years away. ,” says CEC co-founder Sarah Bowden.

“We have to try harder and move faster.”

Plastic Free Windsor's Paul Hinton added: “The coalition team is keen to stress this not just a challenge for the council.

“The borough has to lead by example in its own operations but also by showing clear leadership and getting the involvement of everyone who can make a contribution.

“But all of us, individuals, companies and local communities must pick up the challenge in our personal and business lives”.

Greater understanding of the climate and linked environmental challenges and how we can best make a difference needs to be an important part of the strategy, according to Fiona Hewer, chair of Wild Maidenhead, one of seven ‘Wild’ groups in the borough.

She said: “Our concern is that, while there are pockets of success, there is a lack of urgency, and we need to lead a local response given the scale of the huge challenge we all face.

“Engaging fully with the community will be critical to success.”

WildCookham’s Mike Copland shares this concern. “We need to see parish councils and local community groups, as well as individuals, doing their bit,” he said.

“We call on everyone to check if that’s happening and, if you are part of a local organisation, push it to get engaged.”

There are several other groups set up across the Royal Borough aiming to contribute to the response to the climate emergency, including the Windsor and Maidenhead Cycling Action Group.

Group member Susy Shearer said: “We formed our group specifically to ensure there is continuing engagement between the council and communities to promote active travel – a key aspect of the Royal Borough’s Environment and Climate Strategy which will play a critical role in sustaining our environment, health and wellbeing in the long term.”

So what will 2022 bring?

The coalition hopes to see ‘real progress’ on delivering energy efficient homes to those in fuel poverty, as well as for the refill and repair shops in the borough to thrive.

One of these is Filling Good, located in Maidenhead High Street and founded by Sophie Ibison and Nelly Semaille.

In an effort to boost interest in the refill retail sector, a campaign called ‘Just One Bottle’ has been launched this month, which aims to encourage people to try refilling one bottle.

Filling Good says that nearly 370,000 tonnes of plastic have been dumped in the oceans, and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

“It is time to encourage as many people as possible to start reusing old plastic bottles at their local refill shop,” said Sophie.

Restoration and re-wilding of green spaces and ‘safer and more pleasant streets’ to walk and cycle are also on the wishlist for the coalition group.

For more information, contact rbwmclimateemergency@gmail.com

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