Our planet, your HOME

An introduction to climate action at HOME in 2020 from Alison Criddle, Projects & Sustainability Coordinator

Today is World Environment Day. Here at HOME we’re marking it by launching our two-week-long social media campaign Green June that celebrates our sustainability commitments and challenges ourselves to further action.

Environmental sustainability at HOME is embedded in who we are, what we believe and what we do. We have declared climate emergency, we believe in educating ourselves and others in order to act, and we do the work to ensure that we are continually striving to make choices that impact positively on our planet and reduce our carbon impacts.

Through Carbon Literacy training we learn that every choice we make is connected to a wider web of impacts. The food we eat, the pollutants we emit, the energy we consume all impact on the planet we inhabit. These choices also impact on our neighbours and our wider global community. They impact on the future of our families, our sector and our city. To care for ourselves we must care for one another, recognise one another, take notice and raise our voices.

Green recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic means building back better for people and planet. Every person must be recognised. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provide the blueprint for peace and prosperity for now and the future. For every global citizen to be impacted by these seventeen goals, every global citizen must be recognised and treated as equal.

Our activities are changing our climate and these changes show themselves in the form of rising oceans, longer heatwaves, dangerous droughts and floods and massive disruptions that can trigger famine, conflict and the displacement of people. We know that those with the least are impacted on the greatest.

Remember football? Well an area of tropical rainforest the size of a football pitch is lost or destroyed every six seconds around the world. That’s the homes of the entire Premier League wiped out in two minutes flat. Those forests harbour unique ecosystems, capture carbon, removing it from our atmosphere and are home to indigenous communities of people. Those fires can be started carelessly through negligent behaviour, because of extreme weather, or deliberately, for example to create space for monoculture crops such as soya bean to feed the livestock that make up the global meat industry. I have learned these things through HOME. Scenes such as these unravel on cinema screens, in films consciously selected and programmed by our brilliant Film team, who know that these stories need to be told and shared. As part of my role I deliver Carbon Literacy training to support others to learn, to engage and to act. I am not a scientist, I do not pretend to have answers, but I have willing and a determination to do something. I must learn and listen and act, this is the platform I have the privilege to speak from.

Environmental sustainability at HOME is neither virtue signalling nor a tick-box exercise. It’s hard work, it’s swimming upstream into the unknown with the full knowledge that what’s gone before will no longer cut it and we must be held accountable and work, really work for change. Environmental sustainability is collaboration, commitment, and choosing to face up to our own impacts and aim for a better future for all.

Here in Manchester we are preparing for a period of transition and change as we look to reopen our doors and begin to move out into the world again. There can be no ‘back to normal’. China has already begun to see air pollution levels rise back to pre-COVID-19 levels. In our city centre roads are being pedestrianised and pavements widened to accommodate social distancing and to welcome you back safely. The air we breathe is directly impacted by the emissions we put into it. It is unjust that pupils returning to schools on busy roads will once again be exposed to illegal levels of pollutants. It is unjust that many communities of Manchester do not have access to affordable and integrated public transport. It is unjust that many neighbourhoods do not have access to green spaces, parks and nature. It is unjust that the relatives of many of our city’s citizens living in other parts of the world are feeling the impacts and bearing the brunt of the unconscious choices by those with power and privilege. A pathway to a zero carbon city must be filled with opportunity that first recognises the unique situations we each find ourselves in.

Sustainability – financial, social and environmental – demands equality. It calls for us to recognise, understand and to take ownership of our choices. We want to work with you, for you and because of you. We are working for climate justice. You are the future we want to see. We are one planet, you are our HOME.