Bude is in north Cornwall on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean on the sharp edge of climate change. With storms coming out of the Atlantic. Bude is one of the most susceptible towns in the UK to rising sea levels and coastal erosion. The community has recognised that they need to respond to the challenge. The Bude Climate Partnership is a group of local environmental organisations developing positive community-led responses to climate change. Having secured a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund, they researched their community’s carbon footprint and are now moving on to the delivery phase.
Cornwall had the first commercial wind farm in 1991, the Eden Project turned an abandoned clay pit into a celebration of global biodiversity and the home of Surfers Against Sewage founded in Porthtowan Village Hall in 1990, now a national campaign for clean oceans battling the water companies and plastic pollution.
Bude enjoys wide-open beaches and untouched countryside; it is an attractive place to live and visit. Tourism is a big part of Bude’s economy, with over a million visitor nights spent in the area every year and most arriving by car. Retail, hotel and catering employ 44% of the workforce. Hotels and catering are 11% of all businesses, and 73% of jobs are thought to be reliant on tourism spending. The dominance of tourism in the local economy is both a vulnerability and an incentive for action.
VisitBude’s ambition is to become a net-zero holiday choice – “not least because enjoying its main attractions should leave no carbon footprint whatsoever. A coast path walk, a surf, a spot of paddle boarding, a swim in Bude Sea Pool, kayaking on the canal, cycling, body boarding are all right on the doorstep, and equipment hire is readily available in the town for all these purposes.” As people, consumers of tourism, become more aware of the consequences of climate change and the contribution of tourism to greenhouse gas emissions, there is a marketing advantage, but for coastal communities in particular, climate change presents potentially catastrophic threats.
The sustainability of coastal tourism destinations depends partly on their ability to adapt planning and management practices to the impacts of climate change and also to increase their ability to effectively manage natural disasters.UNEP has published a handbook for coastal community managers.
Climate change will exacerbate weather-related disasters that will be not only more frequent but also more powerful and consequently will put coastal tourism destinations in an almost constant state of alert. Experience has shown, time and again, that it is local people who are best placed to save lives and to coordinate the return to normality. It is the degree to which people are prepared for disasters that determines how vulnerable or resilient their community will be.
Bude is ambitious, determined to be a leader in Cornwall, a county committed to being carbon neutral by 200, twenty years earlier than the UK target. VisitBude answers its own question: “Are we nearly there yet? Not really, but we are at least out of first gear.”
There would be value in enabling coastal communities addressing climate change together to share knowledge, experience and solutions. If you know of other communities actively addressing climate change, please pass on their details.