Launch 30th October 2019
Sustainability Hub, Keele University 

Welcome and Messages from our Patrons


The inaugural meeting of the network brought together leaders from the local government, academic, construction, property, ceramics, energy, farming and business infrastructure sectors as well as conservation and wildlife organisations and climate change activists.


The 2008 Climate Change Act made it the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for all six Kyoto greenhouse gases for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline. On 1st May 2019 parliament decreed a climate emergency with a new target of net zero carbon by 2050. During 2019 all five local authorities in North Staffordshire passed climate emergency motions.

 

The meetings Chair, Michaela Fyson, thanked delegates for attending and read messages
from the Networks three Patrons.


Jonathon Porritt, Chancellor of Keele University and lifelong Environmental Campaigner

 

"I’m delighted to be involved in the North Staffs Climate Action Network – this is such an
important initiative at such an important time. I’m just very sorry that I can’t be there for the
launch on 30th  October"


Joan Walley, Former MP, Stoke North, Chair of Parliaments Environment Audit 2010-2015


"I can really see the need for an initiative which will help bring all local stakeholders together
to focus hearts and minds on what next steps are needed from us individually and severally to
safeguard the planet.


We know from scientific evidence that we have no time to waste in finding solutions if we are
to tackle the environmental challenges of our generation. So it is vital that locally we reach out
to young and old, scientists and finance directors, businesses and faith groups - and above
all to policy makers and local authorities to make sure that we act wisely in the time that we
do have.


We need to listen, learn and act and to understand how together we can build resilience and
commitment to bring about the just transition away from carbon dependence to a new
prosperity across North Staffordshire. 


I very much hope that your interest today will be the beginning of a renewed determination to
address the climate emergency.


Very best wishes for an inspirational meeting."


Jeremy Lefroy, Former MP for Stafford


“I am honoured to have been asked to support the Network. I have seen for myself how
climate change is resulting in forced migration - and how countries such as Ethiopia are
responding to the challenge by massive tree planting programmes, 350 million in one

weekend alone earlier this year. Having voted in Parliament for the UK to achieve net zero
greenhouse gases by 2050, I am committed to working with others in North Staffordshire to
make this a reality, preferably earlier.”


The Chair said that the potential climate and ecological crises affect each and everyone one
of us, the poorest will suffer most. The aim today is to discuss, debate and share ideas to
decrease carbon emissions to ensure that local authorities, organisations and individuals treat
climate change as an urgent priority and together make Staffordshire a leader in tackling the
crisis.


Brief presentations from invited speakers


Clive Thomson, Staffordhire County Council, Abid Razaq, Newcastle Borough Council and
Councillor Joe Porter, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council all gave updates on progress
since passing climate emergency motions.


Chris Crean, Friends of the Earth Regional Organiser and Yasmin Sarwar, Extinction
Rebellion reiterated the urgency of taking action and the need to work together.

 

Professor Peter Lawrence talked about the need for a new economic approach.


Laura Cohen CEO of the British Ceramics Federation was unable to attend so her contribution was read by the Chair. She outlined the significant investment in innovation being made by UK ceramic manufacturers but emphasised the need for government support through investment and R&D. She also warned of the danger of offshoring UK emissions through greater dependence on imported goods.


Julian Woolford, CEO Staffordshire Wildlife Trust outlined the effects of climate change on
biodiversity and the importance of good land use.


Open Forum


Following these presentations, there was a lively discussion with most delegates
contributing.


Topics discussed included:

  • The need to share information and initiatives between North Staffordshire’s local authorities and businesses and the public

  • An acceptance that councils needed additional powers and resources to achieve the transition to zero emissions

  • The need for a ‘new economics’ to ensure that businesses account for their impact on the climate and nature rather than seeking solely to maximise profits

  • The need for companies to remain competitive internationally with Government support to encourage investment in decarbonisation technologies

  • The importance of tree planting and flood management to protect wildlife and to encourage the re-wilding of Staffordshire’s countryside

  • Stronger planning processes at local level to support initiatives to tackle climate and ecological emergencies

  • Recognising the vital role of agriculture and the need for support for farmers to set aside and manage land sustainably.

  • Concerns about what some considered to be ‘unfair and indiscriminate’ congestion charging in town centres, need to ensure least able to pay do not

  • bear the costs.

  • The importance of ‘distributed leadership’ to embed a culture of sustainability within organisations

  • The energy consumption used by the internet

The Way Forward


Ian Trippier and Neil Dawson asked people to complete the feedback forms as the start of the
process of identifying priorities for the Network and called for volunteers to join an interim
committee.


Keele University


Zoe Robinson, Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education at Keele outlined the
supportive approach that was being made to ensure that staff, students and the Keele Estate
could fully engage in making Keele carbon neutral by 2030.


Students studying Environmental Sustainability talked about their twin projects on Campus
and in a local village to examine carbon footprints, address ways of reducing carbon
emissions and suggest replicable models.


Keele was thanked for providing an excellent venue and the meeting concluded with an
agreement that a short report would be circulated on the Launch of the Network and inviting
suggestions to a follow-up forum to ensure that the practical achievements of local
organisations could be properly co-ordinated within a North Staffordshire climate change
framework.


Following the Launch participants were invited to join a short tour to see some of the
practical measures that had been implemented in the university as part of its
commitment to carbon reduction and sustainability.