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Create Change Chesterfield

We follow up on our promise to bring you

more and chat to a local expert.

Words: Paul Chapman

Image: Bottle & Thyme

In the last edition our introduction talked briefly about the Create Change workshops organised by Clare Gage that took place in July, and we promised to bring you an update. One of the outputs was to provide more clarity and information to help people better understand the facts and science around climate change and to help people who want to act.

I’m meeting Emma Knight-Strong to find out more. Emma is a Sustainability Coach with over 10 years' experience. Her business, Green Arch Consulting, helps businesses work with the environment to deliver more sustainable and resilient products and services.

Her professional role is to help businesses to be climate resilient, no matter the size and sector - and to help businesses fully understand their dependencies, map the risks and target the opportunities. We’re tapping in on Emma’s knowledge to help readers become more climate aware.

“Change is happening, and people are taking positive action. I’d just encourage more people to get involved and to make small incremental changes, to change the way they live and consume. Only by making these changes will individuals drive business and government action.

But why should we care?

“Environmental impact is not just climate change, it’s a whole host of consumption and lifestyle impacts that are damaging the planet, including how we feed everyone, how we deal with waste, how we run our businesses, build houses and offices, and how we shop. For those who want to know more about it, the information out there can feel quite overwhelming and complicated.

“Climate change is causing increasingly strange weather patterns around the world and impacting business supply chains. Modern supply chains rely on efficiency measures such as ‘just in time’ ordering to avoid costs associated with storing and stock piling. This means weather events elsewhere in the world may have impacts on business which weren’t predicted. A hurricane or tsunami in a different country is reported as being devastating to local communities, and it is, but it also has big knock-on effects to businesses around the world. They have a very real effect on the price and the availability of the things we buy.

“For example, in 2017 Southern Spain had too much rain at the ‘wrong time of year’, and the price of courgettes went up by 60% ... some might say that’s no bad thing, but food prices are very sensitive to weather as you can imagine!

“On top of weather issues, intensive farming damages the soil, and we’re now seeing the impact of poor soils on food productivity and prices. The ground becomes less productive, and a shortage in crops makes them more expensive - it affects us all.

“In 2011, floods in Thailand destroyed factories where hard disk drives were made, this led to supply issues across the world and 10,000 people worldwide in computer manufacturing lost their jobs.

“Weather change across the world: droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, etc, all impact food production and supply chains, and affect us, wherever we are.”

If you could encourage people to take action, where would you start?

“One of the main all-encompassing sustainability principles is to follow the waste/resource hierarchy: REFUSE (avoid), REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, in that priority order. Thinking about what you buy and the waste it generates with ‘do I need this?’ and, where possible, avoiding the purchase in the first place.

“And there are, of course, more sustainable ways to buy – for example, charity shops are recycling pre-loved items and reducing landfill as well as supporting communities.”

For businesses, Emma encourages reinforcing positive behaviours by not asking the customer whether they want a bag or straw etc… and definitely not just providing one (even paper is a valuable resource). “If businesses assume people don’t want additional packaging but still happily provide it if asked, use will naturally reduce, as would business costs. It’s simply switching the conversation to apply the resource hierarchy”, says Emma.

A second focus for Emma would be to encourage people to consider reducing consumption of red meat. “Red meat is an issue for the environment. Farming animals requires a lot of water, land and food and that’s before you get to the point where you need to transport the animal for slaughtering and processing. This is a big deal environmentally. So, if you want to make an impact consider ways to reduce your consumption of red meat. Meat Free Mondays was a popular campaign started in 2009 by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney that gives a focus to your changes.”

Reasons to be optimistic

“I’ve worked in this industry for a decade and been interested since I was eight, when I decided I wanted to be David Attenborough. Until four or five years ago, people didn’t understand what I did, but in the last four years the scale and pace of change has been unprecedented. People want to talk to me about what they can do, people want to know the facts and are inspired to do more.

“The Paris agreement is a global agreement, signed by all 195 United Nations countries, to limit global warming to 2 degrees above historical average, and preferably 1.5 degrees. A key deciding factor in driving this agreement was that, for the first time, there was significant lobbying from businesses and other influencers. Leonardo DiCaprio, with his 19.2 million followers on Twitter, is consistently ranked as a top climate influencer. Pope Francis’ papal encyclical letter, “Laudato Si” called on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to join the fight against climate change. These things, and many more, sent shockwaves out in to the wider business and political community that had, up until that point, really seen the climate change debate as one for policy makers and scientists.

“The BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, Financial Times, Sky and others have accepted that climate change is real. In the interest of balance, they might discuss the best actions to improve the situation, but will no longer have the ‘is it happening?’ debate - they've accepted the scientific community view.

“The David Attenborough effect in 2017 drove public involvement and interest to a new level. Ten years ago, David Attenborough decided he had witnessed with his own eyes, enough evidence to convince him that humans impact on the planet was detrimental, at which point he decided to put his considerable influence behind communicating that change. In that, he has been highly successful and can be credited with driving a huge degree of public awareness and governmental policy change.

“The carrier bag tax has reduced carrier bag consumption by 86% since it was introduced.”

“It’s not all as bad as the headlines. Not many will be aware, but even when/if Donald Trump takes the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, ten US states have already signed a declaration to say they will follow the Paris Agreement anyway (

“ALBERT has been massive! is a scheme administered by BAFTA, which works to support the TV and film industry to broadcast information about climate change. In a similar way that TV and film changed perception of on-screen smoking and drink driving, the scheme makes broadcasting and depicting people being sustainable as natural and normal - which is an exciting and inspiring change.

“Change is happening, and people are taking positive action. I’d just encourage more people to get involved and to make small incremental changes, to change the way they live and consume. Only by making these changes will individuals drive business and government action.

“For someone who’s passionate about the planet, climate and environment, the step change I’ve seen in public opinion and interest has been phenomenal, I’m excited and optimistic and want to continue to support businesses who want to do more.”


To keep up to date with progress Emma's blog can be found at:


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