Update from our chair Rachel Berger The Wiltshire Climate Alliance was formed in January, with its first objective to hold an event at Wiltshire Council offices in Trowbridge to highlight the anniversary of the Council’s acknowledgement of a climate emergency. That event felt successful: a large number of individuals from climate action groups around the county used the public participation time to ask many questions on all items of the agenda as to what more was going to be done to address the climate emergency.
In early March a meeting was called of members of the various groups, to discuss what kind of organisation should WCA be and what should its objectives be. A steering group was set up and a constitution drafted. Since then, a website has been developed, and a members meeting was held on Zoom on Monday 3rd August. I attended and I was impressed to see around 20 people there, from nearly as many groups, from almost all the towns in Wiltshire. And it was good to hear that many of their objectives are similar, and similar to our own. When we need to work to influence Wiltshire Council it is obvious that if all towns have an active group lobbying for more sustainable policies and programmes, it will have greater impact. As is often the case, a few key people are putting a huge amount of time and energy into this work.
The next big event is on Friday 14th August, when there will be workshop on the Recovery Plan that the Council needs to develop for moving out of the Covid 19 crisis, supported by government funds. Of course WCA wants to ensure that it is a green recovery plan. This workshop will be composed of council officers, councillors, members of the various climate action groups and a member of council staff who is a subject expert in each of the topic areas. WCA is providing facilitators for each group and I am one as are three others from Bradford on Avon. WCA has also persuaded the Task Force on the Climate Emergency to hold a meeting with WCA representatives, on the grounds that among the members is a wealth of expertise on every topic the Council needs to look at.
When I worked internationally on climate change policy at UNFCCC meetings, we worked through Climate Action Network, a body with 400 members then, from nearly every country, huge organisations like WWF, and small groups from some of the poorest countries. But the influence of CAN was huge. On this local level, I look forward to WCA enabling greater influence with Wiltshire Council than any group individually could achieve through lobbying their local councillors. We need both kinds of influencing if we are to achieve a significant change of direction for Wiltshire.