Habitats & Heritage partnered with LBRuT to deliver Richmond Climate Week, a week of climate related events to mark the first week of COP26. Richmond Climate Week ran from 1st -7th of November and aimed to help residents, businesses and communities learn about climate change, understand what can be done to help prevent it, and inspire them to take action. With dedicated themes ranging from reducing waste at home to improving biodiversity in our community, the week saw a diverse set of events and activities working with people from across the borough. Visit our climate pages for top tips and more information about actions you can take to benefit the climate.
Many individuals making small changes add up to make a big difference. Climate week is an opportunity to have a huge impact on behaviour and actions locally.
Food, Waste and Recycling
We kicked off Richmond Climate Week with our Food, Waste and Recycling Day, with a focus on the surplus food café ‘The Real Junk-Food Project’ at ETNA Community Centre. People from across the community attended the café to support their work and see food become healthy lunches instead of waste. Monday continued with the online event “The Journey of Waste”. This talk placed local residents in direct contact with Richmond Council and West London Waste to discuss the services that are currently being offered and how those services can be optimised in the midst of a climate crises. In total, a staggering 6.6 million tonnes of food waste comes from our homes each year in the UK. Of that, 4.5 million tonnes is food that could have been eaten. This ‘edible’ element of household food waste is responsible for 14 million tonnes of CO2 alone – as much greenhouse gas produced as flying from London to Perth more than 4.5 million times. Richmond believes that waste should be treated as a valuable resource, and aims to close the loop between waste and resources to create a circular economy. Residents were also able to raise their concerns in regards to their local waste journey, an invaluable step in improving our current system. Continuing this theme we also had a live online Q&A with local refill and bulk food shop, The Source. This covered everything from how shops work to removing of packaging through the supply chain.
We finished Monday with a cooking demonstration from local chef Livio of Masaniello. Livio demonstrated ways to use common food waste such as broccoli stems and stale bread and turned them into delicious dishes including soup and ‘bread balls’. We would love to see your attempts at Livio’s dishes. If you missed it do check out the video here.
Tuesday saw the focus shift to energy and what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. We started the day at Whitton community centre at our Energy Café. We talked to the community about what changes they can make in their home and what support they have available to them both through the council’s green home grants and the SWLeap project offering energy saving support to communities.
We then wrapped up the day with two online talks, one looking at simple things we can all do to save energy, reduce our carbon footprint and save some money too. The other was a fantastic discussion about how you can set up a community energy group or energy project. If you missed either of these events be sure to check out the recordings and presentation: Energy Reduction at Home and How to Start a Community Energy Group
Education and Youth
Wednesday brought us to our Youth and Education Day where we held both primary and secondary school conference events in Clarendon Hall at York House, with the aim to teach the children about climate change, what COP26 was and why it was important, as well as giving them an insight into climate decision making. We had fantastic discussions about local impacts and what actions the students would like to see.
Schools from across the borough joined the conferences. The conference took the style a mock COP26 debate and negotiations, similar to what the world leaders were doing not too far away in Glasgow. The children, with the support of facilitators, prepared and delivered their opening statements with passion and conviction and got the sessions off to a flying start. The primary students then followed this with their ‘Big Debate’, which saw the students delivering statements of intent in each of their roles from an international company to climate scientists. The floor was then opened to the room for question and the students showed real professionalism and a deep understanding of the topic. The UK Prime Minister team, or the Boris Johnson team as they liked to be known, came up against some grilling and apt questions which, like all the teams, they answered competently. The enthusiasm and sincerity from the future ambassadors and ecowarriors was truly inspiring.
The secondary conference—run in the Model UN style – saw a series of negotiations between the parties China, Ethiopia, Sweden, UK, USA and Greenpeace. The students adopted the roles extremely well and we saw excellent displays of both public speaking and negotiations leading to the students agreeing on a resolution. Both sessions concluded in discussing local impacts and hearing the opinions of the students about what is happening locally and offered them the chance to ask their questions to climate scientists, local authority officers and elected officials who were part of the day. Habitats & Heritage would like to say a huge thank you to all the students and teachers who took part. Every student was truly inspiring and a delight to have as part of the event.
We also spoke with the Kingston and Richmond Youth Council about the youth projects they have commissioned to improve the local climate. You can learn more about the projects here.
In the build up to Climate Week, local schools and students had also been working on posters about the impact of climate change, COP26 and what we can all do to be climate positive. With over 80 entries choosing the winners was extremely difficult. After much deliberation, Cllr. Neden-Watts (supported by LBRuT and Habitats & Heritage) picked Julian Chroback, Frankie Dai, Andrienna, Oliver Harris, Soraya Labreze-Zawawi and Ioel Santos as the winners. You can see the winning posters below.
Heritage and the Climate
Heritage and the Climate was the theme for Thursday, day 4 of Climate Week. The Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings gave an informative online talk about actions you can take to reduce the carbon footprint of your old building in an appropriate and senstive way. If you missed it catch up here.
Local residents also took part it a climate tour of the Heritage Landscape at Marble Hill Park. After meeting outside the newly refurbished café, the tour explored the restored woodland quarters and explained the research that had been undertaken to undergo planting. More work has been carried out to plant the grove of chestnuts (disease resistant variety), as well as white and black poplars (the latter a Biodiversity Action Plan priority species). The tour also focused on the heritage features of the site such as the Grotto.
In the evening we joined Thames Landscape Strategy for a fascinating talk about rewilding in a heritage landscape, looking at the impacts of flooding and how nature can help to protect our local heritage. Catch up on the online talk here.
Transport and Air Quality
Friday’s focus was on transport and air quality. LBRuT shared information about their activity to improve the air quality across the borough and the transport team ran workshops to encourage families to step out of their car. Habitats & Heritage shared how it is making a difference locally by using their cargo bike to transport tools for nature conservation sessions.
On Saturday our theme was that of Net Zero. Our Open Forum event brought the public together with LBRuT officers and some of Richmond’s prominent climate conscious organisations, to have discussions about what can and has been done locally in regards to the current climate crisis. Residents were able to have their say about what changes they’d like to see in the borough, but also learned of initiatives and upcoming opportunities at individual stalls. These ranged from reducing waste within businesses to joining local volunteering groups, finding out what support can be accessed through organisations for sustainable transport, getting stuck in with arts and crafts, and current action plans in connection with Local Authorities. Posters made by children from local primary schools were displayed around Orleans House Gallery, allowing their voices to also be heard regarding the current climate crises and COP26.
Nature and Biodiversity
On the final day of Richmond’s Climate Week, Habitats & Heritage hosted the Draw Off Litter Pick on Richmond Riverside. This event focused on getting the local community together to clear the River Thames foreshores of litter when the river is at a lower than usual level. The event was open to the public and welcomed a number of Duke of Edinburgh volunteers on the day, seeing a total of over 60 volunteers participating. The volunteers collected a number of bags filled with harmful plastic materials, as well as more unusual items such as washed-up bicycles, tyres and home ornaments! Overall, the event was a huge success and Habitats & Heritage would like to say a massive thank you to those who participated!
Practical nature conservation activities, walks and talks also aimed to engage the community with the green spaces on their door step. Groups helped to conserve grass lands at Ham Lands, planted bulbs to improve Westerly Ware’s wildlife and various walks took place across the borough.
As the finale to Richmond Climate Week, our Net Zero Panel event, brought residents together to listen to experts discuss climate change, the drive to reach Net Zero and COP26. Collectively, the panellists held a broad variety of expertise in the environmental sector. They included Rachel Purdon, the Head of Sustainability at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Councillor Julia Neden-Watts, the Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Services Committee, and Charlotte Morley, founder and CEO of sustainable kids clothing company The Little Loop. Before the discussion began, the winners of the children’s poster competition were announced and presented with their prizes for their excellent posters. Once discussion started, topics varied from the positives that can come from the COP26 talks, the everyday steps that people can take themselves to combat climate change, and also the crucial part businesses and organisations can play in alleviating global warming. After panellists shared their unique and insightful perspectives on these topics, the discussion opened up into a Q+A with the audience where residents could share their concerns and thoughts on all things climate. With in-depth responses to questions from the panellists and an enthusiastic audience eager to pick the experts’ brains, the event could have lasted all night but unfortunately it had to come to an end. Finishing the Q+A with a question from one of the children about their concerns with the environmental effect of fireworks on Bonfire Night rounded off the panel event and Richmond Climate Week perfectly. It really displayed how environmental concerns and understanding are evident across everyone in the wake of the climate emergency!
The Habitats & Heritage team would like to thank the experts, community groups and individuals who were part of Climate Week. We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and pledges for Climate Week and we hope to continue to support communities to work together to create a climate positive Richmond.
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