Climate Change – Frequently Asked Questions
What is climate change?
Climate change describes how the world’s long-term weather patterns are shifting. Scientific evidence shows that in the last 100 years, the Earth’s temperature has risen rapidly. This is linked to an increase in greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap the sun’s energy like a blanket with the resulting effect known as global warming or global heating.
Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas therefore the word ‘carbon’ is often used for example ‘carbon emissions’ or ‘carbon footprint’.
Greenhouse gases are produced naturally during events such as volcanic eruptions but human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, putting waste in landfill and agriculture have caused these gases to be released much faster than they would be naturally, leading to a build-up in our atmosphere.
To stop climate change getting worse and to avoid irreversible damage, we need to greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that we put into the atmosphere.
How will climate change affect me?
Climate change has already been shown to be affecting all areas of the globe with heatwaves, heavy rainfall, droughts, and more severe storms becoming more common.
In Epping Forest District, we are very likely to see an increase in flooding events that are already seen in the district because of increases in extreme rainfall together with increased urbanisation. We are also at greater risk of extreme heat in summer, and water shortages due to droughts.
These physical changes will also come with social, health and economic difficulties. Day to day changes to our lives are expected to include an increased cost of living as food prices are affected by disruption to farming and product supply chains are affected. We are also likely to see a decline in nature due to the rising temperatures and water shortages. By acting together, we can reduce the severity of these effects while also making beneficial lifestyle changes.
We also know that emissions from vehicles are contributing not just to climate change but are also having a harmful effect on both human health and on the Epping Forest. Actions to reduce use of vehicles and changing to Ultra Low Emissions transport will therefore bring multiple benefits as well as helping us to meet our climate change and local air pollution targets.
How can I help?
Every person, household, business or organisation can make a difference to respond to Climate Change. All aspects of our lives have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
Actions with the greatest impact include using our cars less, flying less, switching to renewable energy, improving building energy efficiency and eating a plant-based diet.
For more information on how to help visit the Climate Change pages on the Council website.
What are the benefits of taking climate change actions?
By taking simple actions to help climate change this gives multiple opportunities to improve our lifestyles and realise benefits for ourselves, our families or our businesses.
Reducing travel in petrol and diesel vehicles and replacing journeys with active travel, public transport or electric vehicles can greatly improve the District’s air quality. This gives the opportunity to be more ‘forest friendly’ by protecting the long-term health of the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation where the habitat is particularly sensitive to road emissions. We can also help the health of ourselves, and our families as poor air quality is known to be a contributing factor to heart disease and cancer. Active travel also keeps us mentally and physically fit and reduces road congestion.
Climate actions and the associated lifestyle changes have also been shown to create jobs, save money, bring together communities and boost our physical and mental health. For example, reducing home energy consumption and improving efficiency through insulation not only helps the environment but it also helps to save money on energy bills and makes your home more comfortable especially in the winter. The installation of the insulation also provides local jobs.
What is the Climate Change Action Plan and who does it relate to?
The plan shows what the council is doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its own buildings and in delivering council services. It also sets out ways the Council can facilitate and encourage individuals and organisations in the District to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan is relevant to residents of all ages, businesses and organisations who live, work, play and visit the District. This is because we need everybody’s help to reach our climate goal of carbon neutral by 2030.
Why has the Climate Change Action Plan been created?
The District Council declared a climate emergency in September 2019 and passed a motion to do everything within our power to become a carbon neutral District by 2030. The Climate Change Action Plan has been created to put this pledge into practice.