Evidence of the reality of climate change is all around us. Increasing incidence of extreme weather conditions is undeniable - soaring summer temperatures, violent and recurring storms, and more frequent and damaging flooding.
The longer-term consequences are less visible, but no less real. Unless we can arrest the rise in global temperatures, significant parts of the world will no longer be able to support agriculture and will become uninhabitable. The impact on food supplies, prices, and migration patterns is likely to be considerable.
In the face of these existential challenges, it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand or to be fatalistic and assume that planning for a better future is pointless. But I remain convinced that if we all try to do our bit, it will make a difference.
Wokingham Borough Council is undoubtedly a very small part of a very big picture, but by taking steps locally, we are seeking to make a contribution to tackling one of the biggest threats of our lifetime and of the lifetimes of generations to come.
One example is our commitment to plant more trees to increase canopy cover, which will help absorb and neutralise atmospheric pollution. The new Covid Memorial Wood at Rooks Nest Farm, Barkham, will add significantly to our new planting, as well as providing a place of quiet contemplation for those who lost loved ones in the pandemic.
Many of the other initiatives we are pursuing aim to reduce reliance on non-renewable sources of energy, such as coal and gas, but also to save money for the council and for residents.
We are offering residents expert advice on making their homes more energy efficient, which will save money on energy bills.
We are putting energy saving measures into practice in the new dwellings we are building for rent, such as at Grovelands in Winnersh and at Gorse Ride in Finchampstead. The new homes will save their incoming residents considerable sums on heating and lighting.
Stephen Conway - leader of WBC