BRI-CRI: Bridport Climate Response Initiative – proposal for consultation

Introduction: This outlines plans for a range of activities to widen the local community’s involvement in climate crisis responses, including emission and waste reductions, and raising resilience/emergency preparation. This document has been drafted by Seeding our Future as a basis for consultation with a range of local organisations to get their inputs and involvement.

Context: The August 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that substantial, rapid reductions in carbon emissions are essential. This requires urgent action by households, as well as government and business. Bridport Town Council is progressing well with its Climate Emergency Action Plan, but now needs much wider citizen engagement to progress further.

It looks like the probability of an emergency incident affecting Bridport in the next two-three years is rising. The sixth IPCC report in August forecasts more frequent and severe weather incidents worldwide. The latest UK National Risk Register in 2020 lists 16 different major risks which each have a 15% probability of occurring within the next year: these include not only severe weather events, but system failures (electricity grid, etc.), industrial action and terrorist attacks. The Dorset Community Risk Register allocates a Very High risk rating to a pandemic, and to failure of the electricity grid. The Town Council has recently updated its Emergency and Resilience Plan, which calls for involvement from a range of local organisations, plus input from volunteers. The UK Government National Risk Register calls for basic emergency preparations at household and community level, and the CRI can help achieve this.

Target outcomes: The main outcomes proposed are as follows.

  1. Extend awareness and engagement in climate responses as widely through the local community as possible.
  2. Encourage all local households to take steps to reduce carbon emissions and waste.
  3. Promote understanding of various potential emergencies which could affect this community, and simple preparatory steps at household and neighbourhood level.
  4. Significantly raise the overall resilience of the community, both for emergencies and ongoing stresses from climate change and other factors: key ways to achieve this will be to expand the capacity and skills of the local volunteer network, and of the overall framework of response services.
  5. Raise awareness and participation in the numerous relevant local initiatives (e.g. Plastic-free Bridport, tree planting, food access, Bridport Food Matters).

Time period: Initially January – June 2022? With further phases thereafter?

Geographic scope: it is proposed to focus on Bridport including the adjacent parishes. However, there is already interest in Bridport’s climate responses from groups elsewhere in Dorset, and from Dorset Climate Action Network. One of Seeding our Future’s contributions to CRI can be to document what we do and share it elsewhere and via our website.

Delivery partners: This is a starting position, and hopefully a number of other organisations and individuals will join as delivery partners too:

  • Town Council: the credibility and uptake of CRI will benefit if it is seen as an initiative co-led by the TC, even if much of the delivery capacity comes from others.
  • Seeding our Future: this is an unconstituted non-profit project led by Alan Heeks, which works with individuals and communities on resilience and adaptation, especially for climate change. SoF initiated Bridport Food Matters. See more at www.seedingourfuture.org.uk.
  • Transition Town Bridport: TTB was set up in 2009, has about 250 local contacts, and has organised many local events.

Activity Plan: These are initial proposals for consultation.

  • Launch: at minimum there should be coverage in local press, features in magazines like The Bridge, and a social media campaign.
  • Information leaflet: a colour leaflet, broadly using the content of the Simple Steps document, should be produced and distributed as widely as possible, e.g. through local organisations, and maybe door to door.
  • Events: we could run a stall in Bucky Doo, and participate in other relevant events, e.g. the Food Festival.
  • Climate cafés: these offer an informal, supportive space for people to express their feelings about climate change. They are growing in popularity across the UK, and are a good way to raise resilience. Alan Heeks has gathered a small team and is planning to run pilot climate cafés at Soulshine in November and December, with a view to monthly cafés in 2022. 
  • Workshops and conversations: SoF and TTB are both willing to provide speakers to run workshops, briefings and to facilitate conversations for local organisations, and possibly open sessions in areas such as Skilling and Court Orchard.

Next steps: Sam Wilberforce and Alan Heeks attended an online meeting of the Town Council Climate Emergency Subcommittee on September 30: this approved the proposal submitted by TTB, Seeding our Future and West Dorset FoE to convene a Climate Forum in November. The idea of a Climate Response Initiative along the lines described here was briefly outlined, and welcomed, especially as it would help the Town Council to deliver its recently updated Community Emergency and Resilience Plan (to see a draft, follow this link.)