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Middlesbrough mayor calls for more than lip service on climate change

Ray Mallon, Mayor of
Middlesbrough, is calling upon politicians of all parties to pay more than lip service to the problems of climate change.

The appeal was made at a nationally important climate change conference held in the town yesterday (Tuesday 6 March).

Ray Mallon said: “I want to see politicians at national and local levels pay more than lip service to the problem of climate change because they are more concerned about re-election than the planet.

“I also want to see government legislation to reward the development ofrenewable energy resources.

“In Middlesbrough we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by one percent every year for the last four years but we need to do more and the key to it is education. My own intention is to take a roadshow out to the 42 primary schools in Middlesbrough to talk to children about everything from reducing crime to reducing global warming and the part they can play as citizens. As consumers we all need to change our behaviour and I am certain that it is best to get the message across to young people during their formative years.”

Through the plenary sessions and the workshops, delegates examined how local councils, their partners and businesses can work together to create an effective climate change community action plan, explore ways of reducing greenhouse gases, devise methods of limiting the effects of climate change and introduce ways of taking environmentally responsible action which can lead to exciting regeneration opportunities.

In her presentation, Sara Parkin, Founder Director of Forum for the Future noted that: “We have done the strategies and plans – what we need now is action. There is a worldwide leadership failure. Politicians generally have poor scientific literacy but local government is closer to the people and it is local authorities like Middlesbrough which can offer the information and support for people to make changes as individuals.

She added: “We should aim for a 90% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by
2050.”

Dr Dermot Roddy, Chief Executive of Renew Tees Valley, demonstrated how the area has seized the opportunities associated with the need to reduce
emissions and used its resources to come up with environmental solutions: “We are home to the largest bio-diesel plant in Europe and an oil seed crusher plant will see an investment of £40m and the creation of 50 jobs. Bio-diesel made from locally grown cops can be up to 94% green.

“Renew Tees Valley is now talking to seven companies about building a bio-ethanol plant – with the largest one representing an investment of £230m and creating 100 jobs. This will produce fuel which can be used in vehicles at a mix of 85% bio-ethanol and 15% petrol.”

Paul Jackson, Commerce manager at Renew Tees Valley emphasised through workshops on the day “the need to stimulate regeneration by getting business to invest in recycling technologies and that Tees Valley is now a recognised centre for renewable energy and recycling.”

Other speakers at the event included Sir John Harman, Chair of the Environment Agency; Steve Waller, Sustainability Advisor at the IDeA
(Improvement and Development Agency); Maryke van Staden of ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and Stuart Williams from Forum for the Future.

Over 240 delegates from dozens of UK organisations and businesses attended the one day event, organised by Middlesbrough Council in partnership with Renew Tees Valley and Forum for the Future.

Many of the delegates also attended a pre-conference dinner on Monday evening (5 March) at which polar explorer, Pen Hadow, inspired guests with an engaging speech about his exploits and detailed the effects climate change was having upon the polar regions, which he had seen for himself first hand. He then encouraged every delegate to take action at a local level to tackle climate change.

For further information about the conference visit the council's website www.middlesbrough.gov.uk

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