Peterborough Green Party leader opinion: 'I have been shocked and terrified during heatwave'

How can anywhere call themselves an Environment Capital while the world is burning?

By Stephen Briggs
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 2:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 4:18 pm

Councillor Nicola Day, the leader of the Green Party in Peterborough, said she was ‘shocked and terrified’ during this week’s heatwave – but said work was taking place in Peterborough to fund ‘decarbonisation’ projects to limit the impact the city has on climate change.

The Peterborough Telegraph asked cllr Day about Peterborough’s ambition to become a climate capital, her thoughts on the heatwave, and what the city could do to become more environmentally friendly.

‘Nowhere near being Environmental Capital’

Peterborough City Councillor Green party leader Nicola Day

She said; “In terms of being an 'Environmental Capital' we are clearly nowhere near achieving that goal. To be an Environmental Capital we would really need to be a carbon free city and be reliant on renewable energy sources.

However, following a Climate Emergency Declaration in July 2019 we have had a continuous working group set up, seen the climate change and sustainability team at the council expand and now have a newly formed Climate Change and Environment Committee created, which I now Chair. On our agenda is the creation of an adaptability action plan which will put together a serious of actions to help our city to mitigate against extreme climatic events such as flooding and heatwaves.

The climate team are looking at ways to find funding for decarbonisation projects, rolling out a carbon literacy programme and have already created a local area energy plan. The Climate Change Committee will also be scrutinising the councils Carbon Management Action Plan and the City-wide Carbon Management Action Plan. One thing that is really clear is that the government must very seriously look into supporting such initiatives with funding and resources. At the moment they have been making cuts to our local council and this really isn't helping us to best be able to deliver local community-based solutions for both the mitigation of the effects of climate change and the decarbonisation we so urgently need to see.

‘Shocked and terrified during this heatwave’

I have had a mixture of emotions during this heatwave. I have been shocked and terrified. After years of campaigning on this issue, attending talks, lectures and protests we have seen very little progress from the government, who still seem determined to back the fossil fuel industry.

I have felt very emotional over the past couple of days watching well known campaigners who I have witnessed dedicating their careers and lives to make change on TV interviews talking about the shocking realities we now face. Climate Change is here, it is real, and it is frightening. The temperatures over the past few days have not been 'normal', the wildfires those temperatures have created both in the UK and Europe are not 'normal'. The truth is that if we don't urgently take action now, we will not keep within our 1.5 degree global warming limits and extreme climatic events will continue to worsen. The truth is that we will exceed those limits and we are on course for at least 2 maybe 3 degrees of warming. This level of warming will certainly end our civilisation and way of life as we currently know it.

How can anywhere be an Environment Capital?

I am frightened for our planet and for the people of Peterborough. I am frightened for those on low incomes who are being pushed into fuel poverty and who cannot afford to retrofit and insulate their homes. I am frightened for those on middle incomes who also cannot often afford to pay for solar panels, heat pumps and electric cars. The governments target of 2050 is far too late, its like saying your house is on fire now but we will call the fire engine in 28 years.

We urgently need a Green New Deal which would aim to expand the roll-out and upskilling of people who can fit such technologies, making them cheaper. We need investment in totally renewable energy sources. We need investment and ambition in terms of cycling infrastructure, so more people choose to take shorter trips by bicycle. We need a green, efficient and affordable public transport system, we must end our dependence on every household needing to own and drive a petrol car.

How can anywhere call themselves an Environment Capital while the world is burning?

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