Essex County Council (ECC) is the only council to have been awarded an A-Rating in 2022 by the Carbon Disclosure Project for action on climate change. To achieve this A-rating, ECC provided environmental data and showed it had both a climate adaptation plan and a climate action plan.
The chair of the Independent Essex Climate Action Commission, Professor Jules Pretty, said:
This award is a superb recognition of the significant changes in policy and practice that have been made across the county of Essex.
What is Essex doing right?
Is it about community involvement? Professor Pretty says,
This collective challenge of moving toward net zero is being taken up with great leadership by the public sector, businesses, voluntary organisations and local communities.
In November 2022, ECC published a climate action plan, allocating £200 million for its implementation. It outlines how they intend to achieve a high quality environment in Essex by improvements in the areas of Land Use, Energy, the Built Environment, Transport and Waste. Another vital strand is Community Engagement which includes schools’ programmes, residents’ advice packs, Warm Homes schemes and Low-Carbon Bus events.
A further strand of this is the production of a free app for residents, children and businesses, which has now been launched. It can be downloaded to phones to help users monitor and reduce their carbon footprint. It is hoped that the knowledge gained through using the app will help correct misconceptions people have about what is really helpful in the fight against climate change.
The app provides simple information in videos and quizzes about subjects like composting, energy, water and recycling. There are dozens of practical suggestions to minimise the impact on the planet, many of which also save money. It aims to motivate users by offering points and rewards when they take action to mitigate their carbon footprint. Users can use their points to enter prize draws, donate them to good causes or to claim rewards. It is designed for children, teenagers and adults. Whether it will appeal to all ages is a big question!
Councillor Peter Schwier, ECC’s Climate Czar, said:
We are delighted to launch the Carbon Cutting Essex app, which we hope will play a significant role in helping us all to tackle climate change. We can all play our part in cutting greenhouse gas emissions so that we can protect the future of our planet for generations to come.
Will it all work?
Councillors hope that involving the public will help the county achieve net zero by 2050.
There is certainly a lot of interest already. Essex has many very active Facebook Eco groups, for example Eco Essex and Essex is Green. Most towns have their own group; Eco Colchester in particular is very well used, and the town hosts its own Eco Festival every September. So there is a lot of interest in green living.
However, Essex is a big, heavily populated county with many environmental issues like deforestation, polluted rivers and coastlines and pylon proposals. It will be interesting to see whether community engagement works in speeding Essex towards net zero and biodiversity net gain.
The app, Carbon Cutting Essex, is available from the usual app suppliers.
More about the climate emergency from East Anglia Bylines
CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT THE BYLINES NETWORK CROWDFUNDER!