Leading environmental charity welcomes UK move to protect planet

A leading environmental educational charity has welcomed movements by the UK Parliament to become the first in the world to make a declaration of a ‘climate emergency’.

The Field Studies Council (FSC), which operates 20 environmental education centres across the country and has its head office at Montford Bridge in Shropshire, said it hoped the motion would trigger a ‘domino effect’ among individuals and businesses encouraging them to actively change their behaviours and make more environmentally balanced decisions.

It comes as the not for profit organisation reveals it has saved more than £500,000 on its own energy bills after switching from ‘dirty’ to green energy sources and, as it celebrates hitting ambitious carbon reduction targets.

Mark Bolland, the FSC’s leading expert on climate change, said the charity had a longstanding and genuine commitment to carbon reduction.

He said: “For FSC, the impact of climate change is not just theoretical. Indeed some of our centres located near the coast such as Flatford Mill, Suffolk, and Slapton Ley in Devon, are being directly impacted by rising sea levels and are seeing the changes first hand.

“These centres have been working on carbon reduction for almost 30 years. They were early adopters of new technologies and have also become pioneers when it comes to changing the behaviours and actions of visitors and staff.

“For years people at these centres have been encouraged to use refillable bottles rather than disposable plastic ones; water usage is strictly timed and our consumption of meat is monitored.”

“FSC’s challenge in our 2011-20 vision was to reduce its carbon footprint per visitor by 40 per cent. This was a significant and ambitious target but with our continued efforts we are on track to reach this across all our centres, which is fantastic.”

More than 50 per cent of all energy used by the organisation now comes from renewable sources such as solar and biomass and 100 per cent of grid energy supplies to FSC is from green generation.

The introduction of a carbon management plan and investment in green technologies has also seen an estimated £568,000 saving in the organisation’s energy bills over the last eight years.

Mark Castle, FSC Chief Executive, added: “These results should clearly be celebrated but there is no doubt that we still have a long way to go and our efforts will not stop here.

“Simply switching to a greener off grid source of energy is not an answer in itself and we will be continuing to encourage real behaviour change among all our employees, learners and also the wider community to try and reduce energy consumption.

“The latest move by MPs to declare an ‘environment and climate emergency’ could not have come at a better time and we now want the Government to take action to transform the symbolic gesture into something legally binding.

“In the meantime, the declaration will hopefully trigger the domino effect required to start educating more individuals and businesses to think about what steps they can take on a daily basis to reduce the amount of energy they use.”

Today as the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) maintains the UK can lead the fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050, the FSC continues to demonstrate its commitment and progress to reducing overall energy consumption across its centres.

Its focus in the coming months and years will be to manage heat loss at its sites by improving insulation and draft proofing where possible. It will also look at implementing better temperature controls within centres.

The charity’s owned vehicle fleet will be reduced and replaced with more energy efficient leased vehicles and efforts will be made to increase the use of virtual meeting rooms to reduce the number of miles employees and trustees spend travelling.

And efforts will be centred on making catering at centres more sustainable by increasing the number of vegetarian-based meals and reducing the carbon footprint of meals by sourcing more local and seasonal raw ingredients.

For more information about the Field Studies Council visit https://www.field-studies-council.org/.

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