Increases in flooded homes, heat-related deaths and water shortages – what Essex can expect if we don’t act on climate change now

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In early September at the third meeting of the Essex Climate Action Commission, which brings together experts on climate change, from academics to scientists to business leaders, we discussed how dramatic changes to transport in Essex could help reduce the county’s carbon emissions. Formed by Essex County Council last year, this team of experts, chaired by Lord Randall, advises the Council on the steps that must be taken to create mitigate the effects of climate change.

Without action to reduce the county’s carbon emissions, temperatures are set to rise to catastrophic levels in just 25 years. The impact of such climate change in Essex would lead to water shortages, more flooding and the degradation of agricultural land, impacting significantly on all Essex residents.

With almost a third of greenhouse gases coming from transport, we need to take a serious look at how we are all moving about the county and how we can make transport more sustainable. A range of potential measures was discussed at the meeting to reduce unnecessary car use. These included expanding Essex’s cycle network, growing electric vehicle charging capacity and introducing new ‘park and choose’ schemes, where residents could choose to park and then onward travel by either bicycle, e-scooter or on foot.

The Council is already running Stop.Swap.GO!, a behaviour change campaign, aimed at encouraging Essex residents to swap from cars to more sustainable travel options and helping to make a positive impact on carbon emissions reduction.

The Commission agreed a range of recommendations to put forward to Cabinet, with rebuilding public transport and increasing cycling and walking as our top priorities. We will make our full set of recommendations, covering transport, energy, waste, land use, green infrastructure and the built environment, in a publicly available report, to the Cabinet of Essex County Council this Autumn.

I am extremely grateful for all the hard work of the Essex Climate Action Commission and its commissioners in helping Essex understand how best it can tackle climate change and meet the significant challenges ahead.”