Climate change: Sustainability in the community

With the current state of the planet and our daily habits affecting the environment, the burning question we are all asking is 'Just how bad is it?' or 'How can we fix it?'

Yeside Fawehinmi finds out just how Canterbury plans on being a more sustainable city.

A report from the International Development Committee (IDC) found that it is imperative the UK places climate change at the forefront of tackling the seriousness climate change poses to developing countries. If urgency is not taken, the IDC warns that the consequences include floods, droughts, displacement, hunger, and disease.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science behind climate change and they also warn that all the existing SDG's will be reversed and rendered unachievable as it is the developing countries that will be affected first and the hardest by the climate change. Many in fact, have already been hit with the devastating impacts. Ultimately, if the UK does not take action, we will feel the impacts sooner rather than later and it's becoming more frightening by the day because the current state of our planet is alot worse than originally anticipated.

The city of Canterbury has stated their plans for a Zero Carbon Canterbury with hopes to improve the state of our natural habitat environment. The 'Energy, Climate and Sustainability' proposal by the Canterbury Society Vision document 2019 states that they want to set up an 'Eco-Forum' that aims to achieve a Zero Carbon Canterbury by 2040.

The society and Canterbury Christ church University are members of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Eco-Forum campaign is run jointly by the UN's SDG Forum and the Canterbury Society. The forum will be a road map that shows how a zero carbon environment can be achieved by 2040.

The president of the society, Dean Ptolemy claims that the Canterbury Society was originally founded to protect and enhance this ancient and often fragile city of Canterbury from adverse physical re-development and damage.

"The Vision that has been produced here is relevant and apposite as it uses the UN's Sustainable Development Goals as a vehicle to delve more deeply into the social and economic causes of the City’s present difficulties and their physical manifestation. It is therefore relevant to all who live in, work in or who just simply care about Canterbury and its long-term future. It is hoped that it will also offers a helpful framework and context to better inform those who will determine the future of this place."

The vision was based off of local residents responses about what was 'good' and 'not good' about living in the city.

At the moment, the UN is making a big world-wide effort to encourage people to become more sustainable as it affects 17 major themes, emphasising that it is important that the world ‘Think globally –act locally’. Therefore, it is extremely important to make efforts to implement the SDGs in Canterbury.

Canterbury is thriving with three universities, approximately 55,000 inhabitants, an additional 35,000 students during term time, plus over two million visitors each year. Its history goes back to pre-Roman times, and over the years it has accumulated a large and important historic heritage.

However, it is often this heritage that is contributing to some of the issues facing the city, such as crowded streets, which do not adapt easily to use by cars and lorries, plus air pollution and a city centre facing considerable challenges. The problems are likely to be exacerbated over the coming decade during which the city is scheduled to add another 11,000 homes plus the necessary infrastructure.

The UK has historically shown international leadership in advancing both the climate change and sustainable development agendas, playing an active role in negotiating the Paris Agreement and in developing and promoting the SDGs.

However, given what is now known about the pressures and challenges that the world is facing on climate change, given the threats that climate change poses to both disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, and finally, given what remains to be achieved, these facts underline the importance of the need for Canterbury's vision that will hopefully contribute to the much needed policies that will improve the quality of life for its diverse residents and their contrasting lifestyles.

Maintaining and enhancing the overall quality of life

70-year-old John Yard from the Canterbury Society states that devising a carbon free environment 2030 plan for Canterbury residents like Bristol is "too harsh" as Bristol have started their plan ten years ago, whilst Canterbury is just about to start theirs. Due to the lack of history and experience Canterbury has for the Eco-Forum it is more realistic to aim for 2040 as a city but John believes if Kent County Council were to get involved they could aim for a ZeroCarbonCanterbury by 2030.

John also sits on the board of the UN SDG Forum and when asked about the Eco-Forum he said,

“The whole country has to become zero carbon and at the moment we all need to get our act together and with the various groups like Extinction Rebellion and other schools getting involved there’s going to be a much better effort in bringing the whole country to a zero carbon society.

“It has almost become the way forward to carbon neutralize your home, your business, your city and your country. We should let the government work on their country and let the civic society in Canterbury work on the city, that way we’re doing it at all levels. At home, I suppose were trying to zero carbon our own homes entirely but I don’t think we have the chance to be completely zero carbon because if we fly away on holiday we have to plant a lot of trees and that’s going to be tricky.”

Watch the video to see some Eco-Friendly gadgets we can all use to save our environment.

John plans on getting other universities, schools, colleges and organisations involved by sharing the society’s 2019 vision at the Forum meeting on Friday May 17th 2019. The aim would be to get all invited parties plus the local government on board working towards one common goal.

“I’m just getting the ball going but if we all meet and we all agree that this is the way forward, we’ll have to agree on tactics and how were going to implement the Forum. I couldn’t possibly do it alone because I’m not a heavyweight or a big player, we need a lot of the ‘muscle’. We need representation of like the City Council, Kent County Council, we’d have to have all the agencies and big organisations.”