It was a disruption of the disturbing kind when skull-faced mourners staged a funeral for the planet in Lincoln city centre. “We are gathered here today in the eyes of posterity to mourn for our lost future”, boomed the director of the sombre event while supporters held tombstone tributes to life on the brink. Despite the drama, faintly interested shoppers watched on clutching plastic shopping bags before grabbing a nearby McDonald’s and retreating to their cars.
It’s true, noise sparks conversation, and the Extinction Rebellion wailers were successful in creating a social media spike on a local level. But it’s not enough, and ‘in the future’ isn’t good enough either. Seismic action and drastic lifestyle overhauls are vital now and the leaders of Lincolnshire cannot ignore the responsibility they have to spearhead this.
Around a quarter of the world’s biggest firms fail to report their greenhouse emissions, according to new research by the Grantham Research Institute on climate change. The government’s own advisors have declared the UK has no solid plans to protect people from heatwaves, flash flooding and other impacts of the climate crisis, said the Committee on Climate Change this week. It’s a responsibility deficit.
Amid the crippling effect of heatwaves and floods, the county’s agriculture firms are among those already noticing climate challenges. Dozens of acres of arable land and crops were destroyed by the floods in Wainfleet in June alone. By making responsible, extreme changes to reduce their carbon footprint, business leaders of Lincolnshire would be helping others to build a better, healthier economy.
There’s movement in some corners of the county. It comes generally in the form of inspiration, theory and discussions. In August, Lincoln Cathedral will be the host city of an international conference on climate change, organised by the University of Lincoln and the Lincoln Diocese. It will involve two days of lectures and workshops shaped around the disciplines of science and theology and speakers from across the globe will attend.
Tomorrow, Friday, July 12, an Energy Strategy for Greater Lincolnshire will be launched at the Greater Lincolnshire LEP Conference. It will set out a vision for sustainable energy production and use following consultation with local authority partners and be unveiled at the Lincolnshire Showground. The four ambitions in the strategy are: securing low-cost, low-carbon energy across Greater Lincolnshire, development in capacity-constrained areas, a sustainable transport system and a strengthened local energy industry.
Ruth Carver, Chief Executive of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “The world is undergoing an energy revolution, a move towards a new, more dynamic and efficient model of energy generation, distribution and usage. This revolution is opening up new possibilities for energy companies and others, but at the same time the threat of climate change and pollution call for radical changes in the way our economy works in order to reduce CO2 and pollutant emissions.
“Our Energy Strategy is our response to these opportunities and challenges for Lincolnshire and we expect it to start a vital conversation across our area as we plan for a sustainable energy future.”
To some, strategies and declarations represent an empty, over-bold response and undeserving of squeezed resources. In addition to bare-faced deniers in power overseas, it’s an attitude adopted by some of the county’s local authorities.
“We understand that there are people declaring a climate emergency, but if you declare an emergency then that means that all your spare resources will go into climate change”, said Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill, who added the council was doing ‘everything reasonable’ to tackle climate targets with a carbon management plan.
It means Lincolnshire is currently one of the only places in the UK where not a single council has accepted calls to declare a climate emergency. North Kesteven District Council will decide on its position in a meeting this evening.
As if recent floods in Wainfleet aren’t a slap in the face of inaction, it’s time for leaders to get serious about climate change.
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