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Climate Summit leads debate on tackling climate emergency

The summit took place on 18 September.

The first ever summit on addressing climate change in the borough of Rugby took place on 18 September, with keynote presentations from the business, voluntary and community sectors. The summit, which was chaired by Cllr Seb Lowe, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, tackled waste disposal and energy, sustainable transport, and biodiversity, with an additional view from the community sector.

In his introduction to the summit, Cllr Lowe said: “We need to encourage discussion and collaboration at a local scale – moving away from hierarchical working practices, to more equitable ones – collectively identifying the issues and collectively co-delivering the solutions. 

“We need to build capacity – supporting communities, parish councils, groups and individuals to develop the skills and resources they need to take action.  

“By doing so, we can generate a far more holistic and sustainable approach to tackling climate change - developing learning and innovation that can be shared and replicated in the process.”

Cllr Lowe highlighted the current Rugby Climate Survey and explained that of the 500 responses to date, 93 per cent of respondents stated that they were concerned about Climate Change with 88 per cent stating that climate change affected their day to day decisions.  

However,  with 48 per cent of respondents suggesting that they understood climate change either ‘a little’ or ‘not at all, there was clearly further work to do in terms of educating and informing residents about what they could do.

  • During a presentation on the HERU unit, Nik Spencer, CEO of HERU, set out a vision to eliminate household waste, instead using everyday products as an environmentally friendly energy source. He explained that the HERU unit takes everyday household waste such as coffee cups, plastics and nappies and converts then into a clean energy source which can be used within homes. Rugby Borough Council has helped with the technical evaluation of the HERU within council housing stock.
  • Ridhi Kalaria, from Sustrans, set out the charity’s vision for liveable cities and towns, where it is easy for everyone to move around healthily and residents benefit from clean air and green space for all. Her presentation noted that cycling increased by up to 300 per cent on some days during lockdown, and asked how can we capitalise on this?
  • Alex Becker introduced Transition Town Rugby, which supports networks of grass roots community action to ensure sustainable change. During his presentation Alex suggested that community level action can achieve great things with support from other organisations.
  • Ian Jelley, or Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, told the summit about how nature can help to tackle the climate crisis and the role that everyone can play in supporting nature’s recovery. The Wildlife Trusts are championing a campaign that 30 per cent of land should be returned to nature and have launched the Nature Recovery Fund Appeal to support this objective.

At the summit’s conclusion, participants agreed a number of actions including holding future events to look into some of the issues in more detail and look at other factors such as climate change mitigation and the role of parish councils. Rugby Borough Council agreed to help voluntary and community sector partners to work together more effectively, and  to set up a citizen’s panel and create and host a website to share key information and help residents get involved.

Speaking after the summit Cllr Lowe said: “I would like to thank all of the speakers and participants in the Rugby Climate Summit. The summit demonstrated a real appetite amongst residents and partners to tackle the causes and effects of climate change in Rugby, and together there is a great potential for us to make the change that is needed.

“With more events to come, and with consultation on the forthcoming Climate Strategy due in January, there will be plenty of opportunities for residents to remain involved.”

Take part in the Rugby Climate Survey

Find out more about the Rugby Climate Summit