Hundreds of people keen to reduce their impact on the environment attended East Hampshire’s own COP26 climate change conference on Friday, 8 October.
The event, at Alton Maltings, offered residents and businesses inspirational examples and practical guidance on how to cut back carbon emissions.
The government has set a target for all businesses and organisations to be carbon neutral, or net-zero, by 2050 and is hosting an international COP26 in Glasgow in November.
East Hampshire’s version was arranged in partnership between East Hampshire District Council and Damian Hinds MP.
It featured an exhibition of 40 local businesses and community groups keen to help others on their journey to net-zero.
The main auditorium saw a host of presentations and videos from expert speakers, including a video address from Lord Deben, the Chairman of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, and Alok Sharma MP, the President of COP26.
Ahead of the event, three Action Groups had been set up to investigate issues and make recommendations surrounding three major causes of carbon emissions in this district – buildings, transport, and land use and agriculture.
The group chairmen presented their findings on stage before being quizzed by Colin Channon, editor of the Herald Series. Their detailed reports can be seen on East Hampshire District Council’s website.
At 6pm the event switched to a purely business focus, with Jennie Pell, the Clean Growth Sector Specialist of the Enterprise M3 LEP, joining local businesses for a presentation and panel discussion.
Visitors could also find out more about sustainable forms of travel such as electric cars, bikes or community bus services and heard from local schools on ground-breaking initiatives led by young people.
East Hampshire District Council’s Chief Executive, Gill Kneller, who was appointed the very same day the council declared a climate emergency, announced funding streams for the climate and environment.
As well as drawing more than 400 people through the doors, hundreds more watched the event through an online livestream. The event can still be seen on EHDC's YouTube channel.
Co-organiser and East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds had to unfortunately leave the event just before the main presentations began, having just been ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app, but was able to watch the event live via the livesteam.
He said: “Although I am pleased to report that the subsequent PCR test was negative, it was obviously very frustrating not to be there in person for the main stage sessions. The livestream did enable me to follow proceedings at home, and I am very grateful to the team, and Cllr Rob Mocatta in particular, for carrying on with delivering such a brilliant event.
“We wanted to create a forum where local residents and businesses could learn more about what is already happening locally and the support available to help them take action for themselves. The buzz of the exhibition and the content presented by the Action Group chairs, local authorities, local schools and business advisers was, I hope, both engaging and informative.
“This is just the start of a process, and I look forward to working with the many community groups, businesses, local government representatives and others to accelerate the move to net-zero locally.”
Cllr Robert Mocatta, EHDC’s Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, stepped in to host the event and introduce speakers.
He said: “We wanted this event to engage with our residents to explain what they and small businesses can do to combat climate change.
“The intention is to focus on the areas that we think we can make the greatest impact. Such as buildings, transport and agriculture.
“What we must do next is to pull all this information together and continue to engage with residents in the coming months to work out what more we can all do to limit our impact on the environment.”
The event was run as part of EHDC’s Let’s Talk community engagement programme and further events are planned to capitalise on the progress made by the COP26.