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This Autumn, the UK is playing host to the UN’s 26th Conference on Climate Change. Earth is on fire, literally in some places, and we’re almost out of time to do anything about it.

Yet, despite almost everyone accepting that climate change is real, that speed is critical in limiting its impact, and that left unchecked it will be the end of our species, our behaviour rarely matches this understanding. One phrase I hear often when discussing proposals is ‘I know we need to protect the environment, but…’, before going on to utterly disregard it on the basis of something which has a minor impact on day-to-day life. If we’d fought WWII with that attitude the Nazis would have won, yet it’s all too common in the face of human extinction.

You can’t beat climate change without everyone making sacrifices. Vast public expenditure alone will have to be paid back some point in the form of more taxes or service cuts and governments’ can’t do it on their own when our individual emissions are such a major contributor to Global Warming.

Households will feel the impact in many different ways. From more expensive eco-friendly goods to underperforming pensions as companies undertake massive capital expenditure, from five-figure home improvement bills to using sustainable transport.

The last area tends to be one people get particularly hung up on. We all know we should try to drive less, but while Crawley is flat and compact enough to easily cycle around, busy roads put many people off. At the same time, West Sussex County Council’s temporary cycle lanes proved losing road space just creates gridlock.

That’s why we’re bidding for £45m to do the job right, creating a separate, integrated cycle network across Crawley so cars and bikes can get where they’re going without interacting with one another. Regrettably it looks likely this will fail due to West Sussex County Council and Crawley’s MP refusing to support the bid, a proposal which has nothing to do with politics. The Earth is on fire and unfortunately some people seem happy to just let it burn.

Cllr Peter Lamb

Leader Crawley Borough Council

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