Climate Change – Frequently Asked Questions

What is climate change?

Climate change describes the long-term changes in weather patterns across the world. Scientific evidence has shown that the Earth’s temperature has risen rapidly in the last 100 years and is linked with an increased concentration of greenhouse gases. These gases trap the sun’s energy, resulting in global warming.

The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, which is why carbon is often used in terms associated with their emissions such as ‘carbon footprint’.

Greenhouse gases can occur naturally such as during volcanic eruptions, however human activities have accelerated the rate of emissions. Activities including the combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, agriculture, and disposal of waste in landfill have all led to an increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

To slow down climate change, and to avoid irreversible damage, we need to significantly decrease the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

How will climate change affect me?

There are several impacts of climate change including an increase in the occurrences of extreme weather events such as flooding, drought and storms. Other impacts include risk to water supplies, loss of biodiversity, damage to infrastructure and food insecurity.

On a local level, we are likely to see an increase in flooding from extreme rainfall, as well as experiencing weather events such as storms which can damage infrastructure. Extreme heat in summer is also expected, and water shortages because of droughts.

These physical changes will have social, health and economic impacts, on our day to day lives. This is why it’s so crucial for us to work together to reduce the impacts of climate change.

What are the other impacts we have on the environment?

Human activity can also reduce air quality. Combustion of fossil fuels, including the use of cars, can increase the concentration of pollutants in the air. These pollutants not only harm the environment, but also have a negative impact on human health, in particular young people.

How can I help?

Every person, household, business or organisation can make a difference. All aspects of our lives have an impact on the environment.

Actions with the greatest impact include using our cars less, flying less, switching to renewable energy, improving building energy efficiency and eating a plant-based diet.

What are the benefits of taking action on environmental issues?

Taking simple actions to help the environment gives multiple opportunities to improve our lifestyles and realise benefits for ourselves, our families or our businesses.

Reducing travel in petrol and diesel vehicles and replacing journeys with active travel, public transport or electric vehicles can greatly improve the Borough’s air quality, whilst also improving the physical health of our population.

Actions to help the environment can also save money, bring together communities and boost our physical and mental health. For example, reducing home energy consumption and improving efficiency through insulation not only reduces your carbon footprint but also helps to save money on energy bills and makes your home more comfortable, especially in the winter.

What is the Environment Strategy and who does it relate to?

The strategy shows what we are doing to reduce its environmental impacts such as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from its own buildings and in delivering council services. It also sets out ways we can facilitate and encourage individuals and organisations in the Borough to reduce their own environmental impact.

The plan is relevant to anyone who lives or works in the Borough, regardless of age or background. This is because we need everyone’s help to reach our climate goal of carbon neutral by 2040.

Why has the Environment Strategy been created?

Brentwood Borough Council understands the need for action on a range of environmental issues including climate change. The Environment Strategy is to help us tackle these issues by identifying key actions, and commit to our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

How else can I take part?

The consultation will be open from June for at least of six weeks. You can take part by:

  • completing a questionnaire on our website 
  • emailing comments to environment@brentwood.gov.uk
  • posting comments to Climate and Sustainability Officer, Town Hall, Ingrave Road, Brentwood, CM15 8AY

I want to take part in the survey but am unable to access this online. How can I still take part?

You can request a paper copy of the questionnaire by emailing environment@brentwood.gov.uk, visiting the Town Hall or calling the contact centre on 01277 312500, where one of our team will fill out the survey on your behalf.

What happens next?

Once the consultation period has ended, we will analyse results from all the questionnaires and read any other comments received. This information will be used to inform us of any updates that are needed to the Environment Strategy.

The updated Environment Strategy will then be subjected to approval from the Council before adoption.

Glossary

Air Quality - the degree to which the air in a particular place is pollution-free.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - a heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, which is released through human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, as well as natural processes such as respiration and volcanic eruptions.

Carbon Dioxide Equivalents (CO2e) - metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases on the basis of their global-warming potential (GWP), by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential.

Carbon Footprint - the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.

Carbon Neutral - making or resulting in no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, especially as a result of carbon offsetting.

Carbon Offsetting - a reduction or removal of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.

Carbon Sequestration - a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form.

Climate Change Adaptation - taking action to prepare for and adjust to both the current effects of climate change the predicted impacts in the future.

Climate Change - long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas), which produces heat-trapping gases.

Climate Change Mitigation - avoiding and reducing emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to prevent the planet from warming to more extreme temperatures.

Greenhouse Gases - a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. Carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons are examples of greenhouse gases.

Low Emission Vehicles - a motor vehicle that emits relatively low levels of motor vehicle emissions.

Net Zero - completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

No Emission or Zero Emission Vehicles - A zero-emission vehicle, or ZEV, is a vehicle that does not emit exhaust gas or other pollutants from the onboard source of power.

Renewable Energy - energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power.