The Countryside Climate Network, a cross-party group of 21 councils from every region in England, is warning that “rural communities are at the frontline of feeling the effects of climate change” and that “the countryside offers far more than a place to plant millions of trees to offset carbon emissions.”
The group will campaign to ensure that the voice of rural knowledge and experience on climate action is listened to in Westminster in the face of lower budgets and funding rules which favour large urban conurbations but may have less overall carbon reduction.
The new network has been established by UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on climate change. The 21 councils represent 14.3 million people in total, a quarter of the population (25%) and two fifths (41%) of England by area.
Councillor Rachel Coxcoon, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said: “This new cross-party group of councils will be at the forefront of debate and campaigning around climate change. Westminster has long focused on the urban response to climate change, but rural areas have different needs, and the opportunities we can offer in the national response to the climate emergency are greatly overlooked.
“Our administration is committed to getting the Cotswolds to zero-carbon; in common with many other rural areas, we need funding for better broadband, massive investment in public transport and active travel, support through national planning policy to allow our communities to generate and export renewable energy, and a comprehensive support package to retrofit our beautiful old buildings and make them fit for the future.”
The Countryside Climate Network will highlight the unique challenges faced by rural communities and push rural issues higher up on the national agenda to meet the needs of rural communities.