Responding To The Climate Emergency

1 February 2021
Climate change is in the news increasingly often, and you may have heard the term Climate Emergency to describe what is happening.

Climate change is in the news increasingly often, and you may have heard the term Climate Emergency to describe what is happening.

It can certainly seem like an emergency, when you see wildfires devastating California and Australia, storms becoming even stronger and parts of the Arctic circle seeing temperatures more suited to the Mediterranean.

But all of these examples, alarming as they may be, are happening a long way away, so it can seem like someone else’s issue. Climate change is everyone’s problem, though, and as a coastal community, we are going to feel one of the main impacts of rising CO2 levels more than most – a rise in sea levels.

At the same time, there is a resource crisis – we are using more fuel and materials than the Earth can sustain, and then, more often than not, we’re throwing it away far too soon and failing to recover any remaining value from it.

So what do the Climate Emergency and resource crisis mean to us as residents and businesses in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, and across Dorset?

Climate Emergency

Last year, BCP Council joined thousands of other local authorities around the world – including Dorset Council and over 250 others in the UK – in declaring a Climate Emergency. They pledged to make BCP Council and its operations carbon neutral by 2030, and to work with the wider community to look at how early the entire Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area can be made carbon neutral ahead of the UK target of 2050.

As a business, we are doing our bit to make society’s resources go further through our recycling operations, and reduce emissions by investing in renewable energy technology such as our solar farm and biofuel facility at the Eco Park, and our Anaerobic Digestor near Dorchester, which produces biogas. Over the last 25 years, our actions have prevented more than 1.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions, but we know there is even more that we can do.

Our plans to build an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) at our Eco Park to provide low-carbon electricity and heat complement with these other measures, further reducing the carbon impact of waste by reducing landfill, but also through generating even more low-carbon energy as electricity and heat.

Tackling waste is an essential part of the Climate Emergency – landfills are a significant source of emissions – and we have all heard about the problems caused by ocean plastic. Too much of our waste is dealt with outside of the county, increasing ‘waste miles’ and emissions. The council wants to treat waste as locally as possible, using the “proximity principle”, i.e. treat it close to where it is generated.

BCP aims to stop sending biodegradable waste to landfill by 2025 and increase the amount of waste that is recycled or treated locally, limiting the distance travelled by local waste and maximising the recovery of materials and energy.

Extracting value from waste materials

Eco will play a key role in extracting as much local value from this waste as possible – we already recycle over 250,000 tonnes of local waste every year, creating compost, soil improver, fertiliser, landscaping products and biofuels. We’re aiming to process another 60,000 tonnes, which will be recycled or used to create energy. However, this doesn’t completely solve the waste challenge – the other part of the equation is education.

Education, education, education – and consultation

That’s why we are also investing in a visitor and education centre alongside our energy recovery facility so that everyone can get involved in tackling the waste challenge. We will also look to link up with other waste initiatives such as BCP’s £2.4 million Environmental Innovation Hub at Durley Chine, to explore ways to raise awareness of plastic waste and the benefits of recycling.

And on 16 October, we took part in a webinar with Zero Carbon Dorset to highlight local opportunities for generating renewable and low-carbon energy. This is part of our aim to gather views from local stakeholders as we finalise our proposals for the ERF and ensure the very best project is developed, making the most of the renewable and low-carbon energy that it will generate.

We really want to hear the views of local stakeholders on all aspects of our proposals to recycle more, generate more low-carbon energy, use the energy locally and promote action on the climate emergency through education – please read our Eco Park FAQ Autumn Newsletter to find out more and then complete our consultation questionnaire to give us your views.

For more information contact at [email protected].