Councillor Ann Thomson was elected leader of Barrow Borough Council in May. Here she outlines her ambitions for a greener, cleaner borough in 2020.

AWARENESS of climate change and the damaging effect we are having on our planet has grown throughout 2019.

For me, 2020 represents a new start for all of us - the chance to make a real difference to the area in which we live.

Barrow has actually always been forward thinking in terms of sustainability and making the most of the resources we have.

We were one of the first councils in the country to introduce a paper recycling scheme in the 1990s.

In July, we declared a climate emergency by a unanimous vote of all elected members, and in October, we launched our Low Carbon Barrow initiative - our ambitious vision to make this area a greener, more environmentally-friendly place for us all to enjoy.

Work is already underway to establish Barrow’s carbon footprint. How much carbon are we currently emitting as a community of residents, workers and businesses? And how long will it take us to become carbon neutral?

Finding out the answers to these questions is something I want to achieve for Barrow in 2020.

Then we can put some flesh on the bones of our plan so we know what action we can all take to become a more sustainable place.

For me, I would like to see more trees planted across the borough - something we could achieve over the next 12 months.

Also to see the installation of electric charging points in car parks. We need a really good charging infrastructure in Barrow to make electric vehicles an easier choice for motorists.

And I would like to think we can start discussions with developers who want to build eco-friendly homes.

It’s easy for any of us to think that the steps we take to become more planet friendly are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

But every single individual action counts. And that’s where our Low Carbon Barrow vision will really come into its own.

Every tree planted, every new home that incorporates energy saving technology, every resident who improves their own fitness by walking as much as they can instead of taking the car is making a tangible contribution to Low Carbon Barrow.

2019 was a year in which many people finally realised the significance of climate change. I hope 2020 will be the year Barrow becomes an example to other areas across the world as it sets out on a path towards climate repair.