People in Swindon are being encouraged to get behind a borough-wide campaign to put climate change at the heart of their everyday lives.
The ‘Be the Change’ campaign aims to raise the profile of climate change in Swindon and highlight the many positive contributions people and organisations are already making to reduce their emissions.
Even the smallest lifestyle change or shift in behaviour can have a positive impact on climate change such as reducing energy usage and bills in the home, leaving the car at home or opting to invest in ‘ethical banks’ which do not put money in funds associated with fossil fuel companies.
Businesses can also introduce energy-efficient measures including switching to LED bulbs, introducing cycle to work schemes, electrifying their vehicle fleet or minimising the waste from products and packaging.
The campaign will signpost residents and businesses to useful information and resources to help them play their own part in tackling the global issue.
Kody and Janine Bowler from Old Town have been making changes in their personal lives to minimise their environmental impact and play their part in the fight against climate change.
“Just a few weeks ago, we switched to Octopus Energy – who supply renewable energy, which we couldn’t believe we hadn’t done sooner!,” explained Kody. “We’ve started buying our milk and juice weekly from Berkeley Farm Dairy using their online 10GreenBottles app and we walk whenever we can locally, instead of getting in the car.
“There’s often a misconception that greener living is more expensive, time-consuming, and even difficult but that’s so not true. Sustainability and greener living begins with simple changes in the home to reduce energy and water consumption and reduce waste. And then, in your local community, by shopping local and supporting new eco-initiatives. We can all start somewhere.”
Residents can follow the duo on their sustainability journey via @ecoswindon on Instagram.
Local business organisations including Business West and FSB are all backing the campaign as well as community organisations and initiatives such as Swindon Climate Action Network and Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP).
Paddy Bradley, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership CEO, said of the initiative: “SWLEP is committed to helping local businesses transition to net zero emissions and have self-assurance in the vision of a carbon neutral economy.
“Climate change is one of the biggest crises of our time and we believe our ambitious local economy can not only rise to meet these challenges with confidence but also find the green growth that will drive our future economy.
“Be The Change is an excellent scheme that will help showcase the actions businesses and residents can take today to secure our tomorrow.”
Julian Jones, a coordinator of Swindon Climate Action Network, said: “It's good to see the local authority recognising the massive challenge we face to avoid serious climate change in the coming years and decades, which will particularly affect today's younger generation.
“Urgent concerted action requires a collaboration of citizens, businesses and national governments, and local authorities have a key role to play in communicating the issues, facilitating solutions and calling for national government action.
“Many people would like to join in, and a whole new perspective is needed on the way we think of issues, ranging from family size to energy use, transport modes and what we eat.”
Ian Larrard, Director of The Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative at Business West, said: “As a carbon neutral organisation and certified B Corp, we are committed to carbon reduction and having positive impacts and influence on other organisations to encourage them to look at how they can reduce their own emissions.
“We fully support Swindon Borough Council in its ambition to show individuals and businesses how simple changes in their everyday lives can have a positive impact on climate change.”
The ‘Be the Change’ campaign is being launched just a few days before Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet will review Swindon’s first Net Zero Emissions Action Plan.
The action plan sets out a list of initial actions the Council will take to achieve net zero in the Council’s organisational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. It will also support and rally residents and organisations across the Borough to join the journey to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050, in line with the Government’s target.
Over the last few years, the Council has taken significant action to reduce GHG emissions. In 2016 working with ethical investment company Abundance, the Council raised more than £4.2 million from the public to build solar energy with two public investment offers.
The first offer, to build the 4.8MW Common Farm solar park, was the first council solar bond launched in the UK, while the second, the 5MW Chapel Farm solar park, coincided with the launch of the Abundance ISA, making it the UK’s first ever ISA-eligible solar bond.
The Council, through the Great Western Community Forest, has also joined the national Trees for Climate programme to commit to planting a total of approximately 350ha of woodland over the five-year period - around 500,000 trees in total.
The Net Zero Emissions Action Plan will build on these initiatives and go further. Actions include:
- completing the Borough-wide LED street lighting programme, which will see 28,000 lights replaced by LED bulbs
- completing the roll-out of LED traffic signals and signs replacements
- continuing the LED lighting replacement across the Council’s corporate estate
- installing of a 1.2MW battery at the Council’s operations depot at Waterside Park to store energy from the nearby Barnfield solar farm which is located on a former landfill site
- purchasing 15 ultra-low emissions vehicles this year as part of the wider Council fleet replacement strategy
- conducting an annual review of the waste collection routes to increase the efficiency of Council waste fleet journeys
- continuing the process of downsizing the Council’s corporate building estate
- completing energy surveys to inform Heat Decarbonisation Plans for the Council’s corporate building estate
Councillor Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Finance and Commercialisation, said: “We all have a part to play in tackling climate change and the ‘Be the Change’ campaign is a call to action for each and every one of us in Swindon to lead by example.
“As our Net Zero Emissions Action Plan shows we can do our bit as a council, but we want residents and businesses to also do what they can, no matter how small, to make a difference. Not many people can afford to put solar panels on their roof or go out and buy an electric car, but we can think about minimising the amount of waste we produce, take the bike instead of the car, make the switch to LED bulbs or just ensure we switch the TV off instead of leaving it on standby.
“We will be showcasing the efforts of people who are making small changes to their lives to inspire others to make similar changes over the forthcoming weeks and months. We can all ‘Be the Change’ here in Swindon to give our town and our world a sustainable future.”
Residents and businesses can access information and resources to help them make positive contributions to the climate change agenda by visiting: www.swindon.gov.uk/bethechange
To stay up to date with what local organisations and members of the community are doing to tackle climate change, residents and local businesses are encouraged to follow the Be the Change Instagram page @bethechangeswindon