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A zero carbon future - what does it mean for you?

17th January 2023

St Pauls' UR Church Hall

A talk given by Jemima Parker to the Civic Society on 17 January:

It was a pleasure to speak at a recent Harrogate Civic Society event and to have such an engaged and thoughtful audience.
They had no difficulty in addressing my initial challenge ‘How has the Harrogate landscape and culture changed in the past 10 or 20 years?’ New buildings, internet shopping, electric buses, 40oC temperatures and home working were just a few of the responses. However, most of us find change challenging, so it is not surprising that the transition we need to undertake to adapt and mitigate for our changing climate can be hard to embrace. Having a clear vision of what a low carbon society and economy could look like is critical to enable us to imagine what Harrogate could look and feel like in 10 or 20 years’ time.
Zero Carbon Harrogate (ZCH) is a volunteer led, apolitical, charity seeking to set that vision, advocate for proactive change and taking action to help the local area decarbonise. With good decision making there are many co-benefits - warmer buildings, cheaper locally produced energy, better air quality, flourishing natural habitats, quality jobs, healthier diets and travel. To this end we work collaboratively with a range of partners such as the Civic Society. Most of our local carbon emissions stem from energy use in our buildings and our travel. As well as regular conversations with local politicians and businesses, ZCH runs a pioneering retrofit programme with two objectives. To raise awareness with home owners about how to refurbish our homes to save energy/ carbon and to upskill local professionals and people in the building industry so that they are equipped to provide those retrofitting services. With funding from the Industry Energy Redress Fund, we are able to provide free training for local tradespeople. Over 50 local schools have participated in the ZCH Walk to School Days, which are supported by Harrogate Town FC, with their mascot Harrygator being very popular with the children as he comes along to journey to school with them.

My second challenge to the Civic Society members was to examine your own carbon footprint. The World Wide Fund for Nature have an easy to use carbon calculator at It offers tips and hints on how we can play our part by reducing our personal carbon emissions. As a respected voice in Harrogate, the Civic Society can speak up for appropriate adaptations to decarbonise our buildings, transport infrastructure and green spaces both through the local authority planning process and in the local media. Members could reduce the impact of the society itself by walking or lift sharing to meetings. Lastly, I invited the members to explore the ZCH website and consider offering us your support by joining our mailing list, becoming a member or by volunteering with us.

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