Social value: tackling climate change and enabling a greener future

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Why is tackling climate change important?

The United Nations and the international scientific community have made clear the potentially severe global human, environmental and economic impacts that man-made climate change poses. The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, recognised the need to accelerate actions and investment to combat climate change and pursue efforts to limit the future global temperature increase to 1.5°C. The potential implications if we do nothing for communities include increased risk of flooding and extreme heat, disruption to our critical infrastructure, networks and industry, and increased risk to our health and wellbeing.

Surrey residents and communities are already facing, and will continue to face, the impacts of climate change on a daily basis.

What are we trying to achieve?

Our ultimate goal is to see real, measurable changes in our environment, such as increased biodiversity, less waste going to landfill, and lower carbon emissions.

To make this happen, we first need to see changes in our own behaviour as individuals and organisations, especially in the way we travel and the way we use resources.

What practical things can you do?

We have suggested some practical actions below, but we are also keen to hear more creative solutions and to see more investment in research and design.

  • Schemes to reduce carbon emissions. Examples include: introducing car-sharing and cycle to work schemes, using local caterers to reduce transport costs and reducing supply chain emissions.
  • Reducing single-use plastic. Examples include buying a stock of reusable bottles and replacing plastic cups with glasses.
  • Digital Waste. Using digital technology responsibly - centred around device use (mobiles, tablets, TVs, consoles) tying in with how it affects the climate, the carbon footprint associated with it and how impact can be reduced by considered usage of digital devices - could be delivered through workshops / talks at schools or community centres / vlogs / social media campaign – focus on young people.
  • Environmental events and activities. Presenting information/running a workshop as part of an environmental event such as National Tree Week, World Car- free day, National Clean Beaches. Providing learning materials.
  • Promoting local opportunities. Promoting opportunities for volunteering or other social activities to benefit all residents such as cycling or walking groups, environment litter picks.
  • Green Pension. Encourage investing in Green Pension

How can we measure our impact?

Measuring the impact of the proposed schemes could include the following:

  • Evidence of local suppliers such as caterers, printers, or for building materials, having been chosen over national ones, in order to reduce transport costs.
  • Improved air quality in a specific area.
  • Reduction in solo car journeys, either to the workplace or in between locations.
  • Evidence that car-sharing schemes are available, accessible to all, and being used.
  • Considering the wider impact of car-sharing schemes on the volume of traffic and congestion, air quality and public parking spaces
  • Measuring the diversity of attendance at workshops designed to promote actions to tackle climate change
  • Number of green volunteering opportunities/activities offered to residents, or taken up by your organisation

Suppliers are reminded that climate change initiatives will not count towards their social value offering if these initiatives are part of their contract delivery requirements. Only those which would provide additional environmental benefits above and beyond the scope of the contract will count as social value.

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