In September 2019 the Council declared a Climate Emergency and passed a motion to do everything within its power to become a carbon neutral District by 2030. To reach these challenging targets we need the help of everyone in the District.
Through action on climate change and air quality there are opportunities to bring lifestyle benefits to everyone in the District and become more forest friendly. Climate actions and the associated lifestyle changes have been shown to create jobs, save money, bring together communities and boost our physical and mental health.
We 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 bring multiple benefits as well as helping us to meet our climate change and local air pollution targets.
Positive climate action from the Council is ongoing with the purchase of electric vehicles, development of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging, demand responsive transport and safer active travel options. The Council are also bringing forward green infrastructure projects and supporting residents to improve their home energy efficiency through grant funding.
These pages give more information about climate change and air quality, what the Council is doing and what we can all do to help.
What is Climate Change?
The term climate change describes the changes seen in the world’s long-term weather patterns. In the last 100 years, the earth’s average temperature has increased faster than we have ever seen, this is also called global warming or global heating.
What does this mean for the Epping Forest District? Well, we are 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 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. Without action the protected Beech trees in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation are at risk from climate change as they are vulnerable to drought . By taking action together we can reduce the severity of these effects while also making beneficial lifestyle changes.
Evidence shows that human activities such as burning fuel, agricultural practices, putting waste in landfill and deforestation are highly likely to be the main causes of global warming.
These activities increase the amount of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap heat like a blanket and cause the air and seas to heat up, changing the climate. The greenhouse gases produced when we burn fuels such as petrol, diesel, gas, coal and wood for heating/cooking contain a lot of carbon dioxide and so the term ‘carbon emissions’ is often used as well as the term greenhouse gases.
What can I do?
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 from how we heat buildings and our travel choices to what we do with waste and what we eat.
By taking simple actions to help climate change this also gives multiple opportunities to improve our lifestyles and realise benefits for ourselves and our families. Climate action has strong links to improved health and wellbeing, changes to curb emissions make us healthier through better diets, increased physical activity and cleaning up our air quality. Other benefits include saving money, reducing traffic congestion and enhancing nature. So, taking climate action will benefit us all as well as the planet.
Most emissions in the District are outside the direct control of the Council therefore we need collective action from individuals, organisations and businesses to make sustainable choices and take climate action themselves.
As a first step you can find out more about your own impact and start conversations with friends, family and colleagues to raise awareness of how we can all help combat climate change. There are many online tools one of them is the WWF Footprint Calculator where a short quiz is used to measure your impact.
The following pages then give more information and advice on how you can help.