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Report from the Climate & Ecological Emergency Committee

16 December 2022

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Hello Woodbridge and beyond; people of the Deben estuary

December - An end of year report - “Could do better!”

COP 27 outcomes were profoundly underwhelming; and here in England we now have a proposal to develop our first new coal mine in over 30 years? Supporters argue it will be a ’net zero project’ !?

Locally we have many opportunities to find more convincing contributions to the concept of ‘net zero’ - whilst at the same time meeting interesting, like-minded people and weaving together possibilities for a more resilient and caring community.

The youth conference at the end of November had some inspiring contributors. It was a courageous step for the young woman who organised the event; she pulled together a great team of supporters amongst whom, around half the Climate & Ecological Emergency Committee. Thanks to all concerned!

The conference included a presentation from Suffolk Mind addressing climate anxiety and young people. It’s important to ‘treat’ such a phenomenon less as a mental health vulnerability; more as an appropriate response that can perhaps be transformed into a motivation to participate in pro-social activity - such as the youth conference and further activities that may spring forth from that? This will need very sensitive support and ongoing encouragement from the older generations.

A number of ‘pro-social’ projects that the Council have been considering recently have needed cautionary thinking through in the light of ‘anti-social’ behaviour. It sometimes seems that anything that can be ‘vandalised’ will be; especially when it is of value to community wellbeing. Our “emerging into adulthood” generation is facing such profound uncertainties. And when they look to grown-ups that have been safeguarding them all their lives, it may seem inexplicable to them that those grown ups seem to have gone off-duty when it comes to safeguarding from the threats of climate change.  Canadian writer Britt Wray dubs them “generation dread”. Without finding constructive ways to welcome and include young people’s perspectives our local efforts at community building will be ill-informed and severely hampered.

At our last meeting the CEEc agreed to make a considerable financial donation to the fundraising efforts of Suffolk Wildlife Trust to pay back a bridging loan that enabled the purchase of estuary-side land just beyond Kyson point. I was delighted to take up the offer of a guided tour of the area which is to be sensitively managed in a rewilding return to improved habitat, diversity and the regeneration of an ecosystem. It is a gem to have on our doorstep. For we humans too!

At the same meeting we were delighted to hear that our long running Committee effort to encourage greater use of bicycle transport - especially as an alternative to internal combustion vehicle ownership - has been given financial go ahead. We will part-fund a small ebike hire operation for Woodbridge. We hope that by making ebikes available in this way, local  people may discover the ease and convenience of their use and subsequently consider easing off their car dependency habit? This project sits well alongside the ‘mini-Holland’ scheme that may, if we are selected, transform the way we share the town-centre spaces. Talking of which, you may notice the new planters on the Thoroughfare? Our town’s ‘handyperson’ has planted them up with trees donated by Notcutts, (thanks). More trees, more hints to vehicles that still try to use the Thoroughfare as a through-route that they are generally not welcome.

Thanks for reading this far. If you have your young people around you, may I suggest you make some listening space for them to talk about climate concerns? Who knows, they may have much to contribute, or they may be one of those ‘antisocials’. Not that it’s your fault - actually it’s best perhaps to think “it’s no-one’s fault but it could be everyone’s responsibility”

Always good to hear back from you?

Councillor Martin Wilks, chair, CEEc

councillorwilks@woodbridge-suffolk.gov.uk

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