Dear Sir,

I was delighted to see last week’s Newton News debating Climate Change. Of course some of the views expressed were negative! This is a problem far wider than too much CO2 in the atmosphere – it is a massively complex and interlinked malaise threatening society and economy which already encompasses the devastation of the environment and a growing mass-extinction of species.

Neither are the solutions easy – some of the suggestions are wholly unacceptable; we must not envisage a future for our grandchildren where they sit, childless, car-less and jobless, shivering in a well-insulated room at 16°C. Meanwhile, we must appreciate that whatever we do in such a complex issue might damage something, somewhere else … and it is a platitude to say that most of the problem lies well beyond the ability of our country, never mind our Council, to solve alone.

So, if we are to crack this nut, we would be ridiculous to pursue simplistic solutions thoughtlessly, and we must take full account of all the caveats and barriers, as well as the opportunities and benefits. We must be visionary and sceptical at the same time.

HAVING SAID THAT, I meet few people nowadays who doubt that “climate change is on its way at a great rate of knots” or that “nature has decided to take a hand”.

And the answer is not to do nothing – to let it happen and hope it happens to our grandchildren not us.

AS I SEE THE ISSUE, all we can do is ‘our bit’.

The nations of the world agreed at the Paris Climate Conference that one thing they could do was to restrict the growth of carbon emissions; they each negotiated what they felt was a fair share of such a restriction (according to a formula which, by the way, favoured the richest nations) – and the UK agreed/offered what would be our nation’s share of that restraint.

One correspondent wondered what our MP thought of my Climate Change ideas. In fact the government is fully on board with a 2050 target, has a strategy to achieve that, and has set up a Climate Change Committee to hold itself to any shortfalls.

Consequently, two years ago, the County Council ALSO stepped up … a unanimous, cross-party resolution to commit to County Durham’s fair share of our nation’s commitment. Whilst that entails key policy and budget decisions at a Council and regional level, it also involves engaging businesses and residents to help make our county, as well as our Council, carbon neutral “as quickly as possible”.

As part of the Council’s commitment, it was my honour to be asked to be DCC’s ‘Climate Champion’. In that capacity I have addressed numerous meetings in venues ranging from European Conferences to tiny community groups, and I have to say that it has been a disappointment that, despite this recourse ‘on your doorstep’, only one group from Newton Aycliffe has asked me to visit them. May I offer – albeit just ‘virtually’ for the time being – to speak with any group which invites me, to answer questions honestly, and to listen to people’s ideas and issues.


Cllr John D Clare

(DCC Climate Champion)