Major conference on climate action

21 May 2024

In a major speech to a 100-strong Community Action Group conference in Taunton on Saturday, Cllr Dixie Darch, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change urged people to feel positive about what can seem like a “doomster” subject.

‘Action for Somerset’s Future’ was an interactive day of developing connections across Somerset communities to encourage climate action and community wellbeing.

The leading Liberal Democrat councillor said: "We have a moral imperative to be hopeful, and grateful for the natural riches on our doorstep, but we do need action for change.

“We want to engage with our communities and support that change."

Cllr Darch added that, despite massive government cuts to social care and a resulting financial crisis, the new council had already started to make real progress.

This had been achieved by securing a 50% reduction in emissions from road maintenance, mapping areas for renewable energy generation, bringing in electric buses, building new zero carbon council houses and beginning work on a new Local Plan for the county.

Warning against those who want to stir up “culture wars and polarisation”, Cllr Darch reminded the conference that elected representatives “aren’t magicians”.

She said: “We need to work together in partnership with public and private sectors, communities and experts to address climate action beyond the direct reach of the council - we cannot do this alone.”

Other speakers at the event in the Albermarle Centre included Anita Roy of Transition Town Wellington and Nikki Saunter, founder of Boston Tea Party which is known for the local sourcing of its range.

Gideon Amos, the Lib Dems’ local Parliamentary candidate, who works on offshore wind projects, also took part in the conference.

He said: “It was great to recognise so many volunteers who do vital work protecting and caring for their local environment as well as influencing change on a bigger scale.

“They’re showing us we can cut pollution and - for example - reduce our fuel bills.

“Helping everyone with the cost of living is a big priority for me in the forthcoming General Election”.

Cllr Darch concluded that “small actions often lead to bigger changes - never underestimate your influence as a role model.”


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