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Confused by COP 26?

By JULIA HILTON, Green Party councillor for Tressell and Old Hastings, and TONY COLLINS, Green Party campaigner

The news is full of environmental doom as COP 26 unrolls. You may feel anger, despair, or confusion at the way our politicians are failing to seize the initiative. We need our leaders to lead, recognising that time is running out for our lives on this planet. 

At a local level, Hastings Borough Council declared a climate emergency in 2018, but we are yet to see decisive action. Yes, our council is strapped for cash, but they need to be showing leadership, reaching out to the expertise and energy in our communities, and calling for action from all local organisations: businesses, schools, hospitals, etc.

The government certainly needs to drive this change, but by acting ourselves at a local level, we can influence government from the bottom up as well as making a difference in our local area. 

The effects of coastal erosion
CREDIT: Amanda Jobson

Here are twelve positive steps you can take in Hastings! None of them are difficult. They will save you money and improve your life. All follow Mahatma Gandhi’s basic advice: “Think global, act local.”

1. Insulate your home. Talk to Energise Sussex Coast who can offer free advice on how to make your home cosier and save you money. Home heating is a huge part of our town’s carbon footprint. Much of the work you can do yourself, or with the help of a neighbour. Use a local tradesperson where you can.

2. Borrow rather than buy. The newly opened Library of Things, at Eagle House in Cambridge Road, has hundreds of useful items on offer, from stepladders to tea urns. Annual membership is just £3 per year.

3. Don’t throw it away, give it away. Hastings Freegle, run by volunteers, is a brilliant way to find a new home for things, or to get hold of something you need (or support other organisations that do similar things). 

4. Leave your car at home if you have one – even just one day a week – and walk or cycle to work or to do the shopping. When did you last catch a bus? Join the local Co Wheels Car Club.

5. Choose not to fly. Take your holidays in the UK; conduct that meeting by Zoom. 

6. Talk to your friends and neighbours about the changes you are making to lower your carbon footprint. Good habits are catching!

7. Eat more plant-based foods. Choose local and organic whenever possible.

8. Put your money to work. Having a sustainable pension is many times more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up flying and becoming a vegan. Go to: to discover what your pension fund is doing to reach Net Zero. And how is your bank doing? Consider moving to a green bank like Triodos which doesn’t invest in fossil fuels.

9. Inform yourself. Read Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth for a different lens on how we need to view future development, within planetary limits.

10. Write to our MP, Sally-Ann Hart, and ask her to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which aims to reverse climate and ecological breakdown and sets annual targets to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. 

11. Participate in local clean-ups. 

12. Visit our local Green hub – every Thursday from 12.00–5.00pm – at the Common Room, Eagle House, Cambridge Road.

It’s always worth doing what you can. Details matter, however small. Volunteer. Get involved. Get informed. Plant a tree! Leave the planet better than you found it. Hastings deserves better.

Previously published on Hastings Independent Press.