Climate change: Why we must do something 

I wish I could start this article about the climate by giving you some reassurance about the future of our planet but I can’t except that it’s not too late as long as we act now! 

I am very much part of the problem: I drive a small polluting car, I have gas fired central heating, I eat beef, butter and cheese, I don’t grow enough vegetables in spite of having a garden, I bank with a High Street bank that invests my money in fossil fuels and I love to travel when I can afford it. 

I joined the WI in the 1980s following in my mother’s footsteps and having given talks to many WIs about cheese. I have enjoyed the opportunities it has given me but until recently I have not contributed to the campaigns. 

It was when I was representing my WI at The Time is Now lobby in 2019 that I met other people from my area who were concerned about climate issues. About 20 Mole Valley residents met our MP, Sir Paul Beresford, for half an hour in a room in the House of Commons. When time was up he left the room and we talked to each other and exchanged emails. I believe that was the most useful outcome of the meeting. 

In the following weeks I went to local meetings of Dorking Climate Emergency and Extinction Rebellion. The people I met were interesting, well informed and passionate about global warming. 

Encouraged by the Paris Agreement but bitterly disappointed by our Government’s response, they took non-violent action locally and in London to emphasise the urgency of the situation. Many of us disapproved of the action but we can’t deny that the climate is now higher up the agenda than ever before. 

I do believe that the combined action of Greta Thunberg, school strikes, David Attenborough, Extinction Rebellion, Countryfile, Friends of the Earth, Wildlife Trusts, the WI and hard work by individuals and organisations have raised awareness. This is not a political issue — it is for all of us regardless of our political opinions. 

Yes, as individuals we are trying. We need to encourage each other and as we lead up to COP 26* — the Climate Change Conference due to take place in Glasgow in November this year — show that we are willing to make the changes needed to reduce carbon emissions. 

So what can I do? I can talk about my concerns to my friends and mention that during lockdown I’ve taken the time to check with my energy supplier that my electricity comes from a renewable source. I can Show the Love by making a green heart (being creative is good for us); I have bought a shopping trolley, saves using the car. When COVID-19 restrictions allow I will join activists in expressing my concerns. I will grow more vegetables this year… 

This would all be difficult to do in isolation. If you are reading this you must be online so I would encourage you to look up your local organisations: Friends of the Earth, Surrey Wildlife Trust, WWF, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, Climate Action (your town), Transition (your town) CPRE (Council for the Preservation of Rural England), Plantlife to name but a few. 

I have found it inspiring to be part of an action group and I have huge respect for the efforts that are going on to bring about the changes needed. 

Rosemary Horton, SFWI Climate Advocate

􏰀Rosemary welcomes your questions or opinions and is offering to give talks on the subject via Zoom to interested WIs. Contact her at hortonrosemary@ymail.com 

* COP26 will be the biggest diplomatic conference the UK has ever hosted, with over 200 world leaders set to attend. The WI will be working closely with The Climate Coalition to provide members with plenty of activities and events to attend in the lead up to COP26. 

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