Climate change is the defining issue of our time


All of us today who are in leadership positions will be held to account in the future as to what we did to help combat climate change.

This is no longer a “specialist issue” that we can leave to the environmental organisations to focus on. It is now an issue for us all.

Here in the North East we have a special responsibility.

The North East was the home of the Industrial Revolution. It was our miners who first released coal from the deep mines, and opened up the great North Coalfield to the world.

Our engineers developed the machinery, our workers developed the world’s first industrial proletariat. Our forebears unleashed the genie of carbon-intensive fuel.

Our region was also the first post-industrial society – the first area where mines closed, followed by steel works, ship-building and chemical works. The North East mining communities were the first sacrificial lands.

And now the North East has the opportunity to lead the response.

The region is buzzing with initiatives aimed at greening the North East – improving the environment, protecting threatened species, increasing recycling, generating sustainable energy, planting trees. Local authorities are all declaring “climate emergencies” and drawing up their action plans.

For us, in civic society, we have a great duty and a great opportunity.

The duty is to bring together these initiatives from across our region, to create one ambitious strategy that engages everyone in our communities – so that everyone, whoever they are, can contribute to our future.

The opportunity is to make the North East the greenest region in the country – a region that is great to live in, with great jobs that can emerge from the new green economy to replace all those thousands of lost jobs.

This summer VONNE is consulting all our members, and other organisations across the region. Together we hope to draw up an ambitious plan to present to Government, to attract investment from them and from others, to support our vision of the North East becoming the greenest region in England.

VONNE Annual Conference

Do you think this sounds feasible? Do you want to be part of it?

Come to VONNE's Annual Conference on Thursday 7 November at Newcastle Helix

We are working with Peter Stark OBE on consultation events with our members across the region and have held meetings in Newcastle, Stockton and Durham.

You can read Peter's blog where he explains his proposal for a Regional Gathering to address climate change to coincide with the UN Conference in November/December 2020.

You can also read this useful blog from Jake Hayman, CEO of Ten Years Time about what practical steps VCSE organisations can take to respond to the urgency of climate change.

Sir Paul Ennals
Chair, VONNE