#ShowTheLove for Cornwall!

Show the Love for Cornwall!

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Every Valentines Day, the Climate Coalition encourage everyone to ‘Show the Love’ for the planet and those things we hold dearest that will be effected by climate change. Last Friday, on 15th February, Hope for the Future was in Threemilestone to Show the Love for Cornwall! To coincide with the New Seasonal Survey for Cornwall, we held event with the Cornwall Federation of Women’s Institutes (CFWI). Over 55 CFWI members from across Cornwall were able to attend alongside Derek Thomas MP and speakers from the RSPB, the Woodland Trust and the University of Exeter. 

The panel discussion, chaired by HFTF’s Sarah Robinson, also aligned with the youth climate strikes taking place across the United Kingdom. Pippa Stilwell, event organiser and member of the CFWI said “It felt very poignant that 400 children and young peoplehad gathered at County Hall for the Youth4Climate rally on the morning of our event, and also that there was an Extinction Rebellion meeting in St Just that same evening.  There seems to be a new urgency out there”. This urgency was made clear in the afternoon’s opening presentation from the RSPB. Local warden, Jenny Parker and conservation Officer Paul St Pierre gave an overview of the effects that climate change is already having on Cornwall’s wildlife and habitats. Seasonal changes are already effecting the natural flood chain which mean that for many species their food is appearing at the wrong time. This change in temperature will also mean some birds and insects are forced to relocate as they try to find new habitats with climatic conditions more suited to their needs. 1 in 6 species could face extinctionas suitable alternatives are not always available.

Catherine Brabner-Evans from the Woodland Trust also echoed this urgency. She confirmed researchers have found that warmer springs are creating a mismatch in food chains, with spring now arriving11 days earlieron average than in the 19thcentury. Following the hottest winter day since records began (21 degrees!) its not surprising to hear that changes are already happening in Cornwall and elsewhere in the UK. Catherine told the audience, and the wider public, how they can get involved and contribute to vital databases held by the Woodland Trust; including Nature’s Calendar and Observatree.

To limit the changes we are seeing, emissions need to decline rapidly across all of the main sectors in society. This includes buildings, industry, transport, energy, and agriculture, forestry and other land use. Cornwall benefits from a wealth of low carbon resources through solar and wind energy. However, the potential for this growth is limited by the current grid system which presents a huge challenge for renewable energy for the county.  Dr Iain Souter from the University of Exeter suggested that the only way to tackle this problem is through more collaborative innovation. This requires bottom up demand and strong political leadership in order to act quickly and avoid the UK missing out on the transition to a low carbon economy. 

On this note, Derek Thomas encouraged the audience “not to think of Cornwall as the end of the line, but the start of something”. Derek highlighted that the afternoon’s event also fell on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day. reported by the Independent in July 2018 indicate that fuel poverty has been steadily increasing between 2009 and 2012, affecting more than 1 in 10 houses in the UK. The high cost of fuel is exacerbated by the UK’s current stock of poorly insulated and energy in-efficient housing. Cornwall is committed to becoming carbon neutral and Derek suggested that households would be the best place to start. George Osborne committed £1 billion for infrastructure improvement and Derek would advocate for this to be largely spent on homes. 

Reflecting on the panel discussion, Pippa concluded: “It is clear from the speakers that we need to identify the best ways to tackle climate change and to act quickly.  But it has to be the best action to take, and for that we need many, many conversations at grassroots level, meaning that all of us need to be well informed about the issues and the different interests involved. We all need to share in these conversations”. Jenny and Paul from the RSPB called upon Derek Thomas and other MPs to: Protect our environmental legislation and ensure ministerial accountability post Brexit. They also urged everyone to sign upto the net zero emissions campaign and get others to join up too. 

If you want to learn more about the net zero emissions campaign then please get in touch with us at info@hftf.org.uk. For more information about getting involved with Nature’s calendar, Observatree or any other Woodland Trusts citizen science project then visit: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/