We owe it to all generations to make our planet greener and cleaner, a packed climate conference was told today in Worthing.
Leader of Worthing Council, Cllr Daniel Humphreys, outlined to delegates at the Zero2030 conference what Adur & Worthing Councils are doing to build a more sustainable environment and combat climate change.
He said the Councils had declared a climate emergency in July last year and had pledged two million pounds over the next few years to build on their carbon reduction plans.
They had also committed to moving towards zero carbon energy use across Adur and Worthing by 2050, and within the Councils by 2030. Their sustainable AW framework – with ambitious plans in six key areas: biodiversity, carbon reduction, energy, transport, waste reduction and water – had also been updated.
Over 300 local people, including local residents and representatives from local businesses, community and civic groups attended the community-led conference at Worthing’s Assembly Hall to discuss how to shape the local response to the climate emergency.
Cllr Humphreys added: “This conference is about us working together to come up with some of the solutions and develop ideas for local action.”
Speakers at the conference included keynote speaker Isabella Tree of the well-known rewilding project at Knepp Estate near Horsham and Matt Rooney of sustainability experts, Anthesis, which has been helping the Councils measure and monitor its energy use as part of its carbon reduction strategy.
Tree, a conservation pioneer, told the audience that creating corridors of rewilded areas was key in Sussex and across the country. They not only increased biodiversity by giving wildlife safe havens they can move between, but also had a key role in carbon reduction and in stopping flooding in lowland areas.
“We are seeing birds on our land which we haven’t seen in 100 years, and our restored soils are capturing double the amount of carbon, as well as acting like a sponge, absorbing water.”
Community groups were also given time at the conference to talk about the work they are already doing locally. They included the two key organisers of the conference, Transition Town Worthing (TTW) and Worthing Climate Action Network (Worthing CAN).
Speaking afterwards, Michelle Furtado of Worthing CAN said: “We want people to feel inspired and positive about what can be done, and then we hope they take that back into their communities, their streets, their schools and their lives.”
Students from Chatsmore Catholic High School, who are part of the FingerPrints (not footprints) climate action group also spoke at the conference, and other local groups and organisations set up stalls. They included Community Works, Surfers Against Sewage, Breathing Spaces, Sustrans, South East Climate Alliance, Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust, Sompting Estate and Community Chest.