This week has seen the launch of the United Nations Climate Change conference, also known as COP26. Leaders from around the world are meeting in Glasgow to discuss how we can accelerate climate action.
There will undoubtably be much talk around climate impacts, carbon budgets, and zero carbon targets for the future, all of which is necessary to inform and achieve our end goal, but it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge ahead. So, what does this mean for us, at a more local level, and how can we all play our part to reduce our impact on the environment?
As a mutual housing society, we are committed to taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of our business and playing our part in delivering a carbon neutral Greater Manchester by 2038. We will invest in our existing homes, making them greener, warmer, and healthier. We also aspire to build new climate resilient homes, fit for a low carbon future. We will deliver our services in a greener and healthier way, and we will encourage our partners and our suppliers to do the same. This is one of our key tasks as we work with our tenant and employee Representatives to develop our priorities for the next few years.
We can’t do this alone. Our lifestyle choices have a significant impact on the environment. From the way we live at home, the food we eat and the way we travel, every one of us can help to play a part. The first step we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint is to avoid activities that emit greenhouse gas emissions in the first place and how we live in our homes is a key part to this. This can mean the smallest of changes to your daily life, but collectively they will have a big impact. I want to share some practical things that we can all do to help.
- The Energy Saving Trust has some great tips on how to reduce the energy demand from your home – small, simple actions that can help make sure that you are playing your part, as well as saving some money at a time when energy prices are rising.
- Don’t forget that our Money Advice Team has produced some useful advice and guidance about the current energy price crisis - and they provide free advice available to all RBH tenants.
- Count Us In is building the world’s largest community of people and organisations taking practical action on climate change. They've outlined 16 steps and are asking everyone to choose a step, keep it up, and track your progress. I have asked RBH employees to sign up and take action - and I'd love to hear examples from our tenants, residents, and partner organisations too. I've already started to think about which of the 16 steps I can introduce into my own routine. One of the things I’ve been looking at with my family is how we can reduce our food waste and eat more seasonal products – including avoiding imported fruit and vegetables where we can. We've also put these principles into practice with our three RBH pantry projects - last year our pantries saved over 40 tons of food from going to waste, as well as saving our tenants £118,000 from their shopping bills.
Finally, I want to share this week's report from the Social Housing Tenants' Climate Jury, organised by the Northern Housing Consortium and involving tenants from all across the North of England. This is a fascinating and exciting report, and we'll be looking at the recommendations closely to understand where we can learn and improve.
Gareth Swarbrick - RBH Chief Executive