climate change environment

How climate friendly is your community?

Action on climate change operates on every level – with our personal and household choices, our local area, national policy, and international agreement. A lot of attention goes to the big global conferences at the one end of the spectrum, and to personal carbon footprints at the other. It very much depends on where you live, but local and regional plans can often get overlooked in the middle.

Friends of the Earth have been highlighting local action through their climate friendly communities tool. They’ve brought together multiple datasets to look at each local authority in Britain. You can enter your postcode, and view a summary of how well your town or city is performing on climate change, and what some sensible next steps might be.

For example, my current home in Luton scores 52%, which means that it “needs to do much better on increasing the use of public transport, cycling, and walking, improving home insulation and increasing tree cover.”

The latter is particularly striking. It doesn’t feel like it where I am, but apparently only 3% of Luton is tree cover. That seems very low, and the leafiest similar areas reach 13%. I’m not sure we could get that far, but I’m sure we could double that low percentage. I’m involved in planning a new community orchard in a local park at the moment, and my wife is coordinating a dozen new trees for our son’s school, so we’re adding a few more ourselves.

Luton also has just 5 megawatts of renewable energy available. Each megawatt provides for about 125 homes, so that’s just 625. Luton has nearly 75,000 households. Obviously Luton is going to be buying in energy from outside the town and doesn’t have to self-sufficient, but I think we can do better than that. Our best performing peers have five times as much renewable energy created locally.

Friends of the Earth also summarise transport, housing efficiency, and waste. Look up how your own area is performing here.

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