A clear message has been sent on climate change by contributors to a day of debate organised by campaign group Tynedale Transformed – much more needs to be done.

Speakers from across the district were joined by the Labour Party’s shadow Energy & Business Minister, Dr Alan Whithead MP, to highlight the enormous challenges ahead to achieve a carbon neutral environment.

Alison Smith, who runs the Matthias Winter shop on Hallstile Bank, Hexham, said her store aimed to help people make small changes to their lives which would collectively lead to major change.

She said: “Everyone can do something from buying greener products to re-cycling, to saving on plastic use. For example, we take in products you can’t normally re-cycle; crisp packets, Pringle tubes, biscuit wrappers and even the remains of candles from the Abbey, and make sure they are re-used.”

Yvonne Conchie, from Sustainable Allendale, said it was vital that people shared ideas to reduce their carbon footprint. “Everyone must first find out more on climate change, then build links with other people and groups, and then take action.”

Helen Forbes, from St Cuthbert’s eco-church in the Allen Valleys, spoke about how churches and other organisations can all take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. “Just one church can make a difference by making changes in every area,” she said.

Dr Alan Whitehead MP was the keynote speaker. He outlined details of the Labour Party’s recently re-launched Green New Deal. “In almost every area the Government needs to be doing more if we are to meet the zero carbon targets,” he said.

“If you take the issue of heating our homes and switching from gas and oil, we must invest massively and quickly in hydrogen systems as well as ground and air source heat pumps. But a good proportion of our heat is wasted through inadequately insulated homes. Labour’s policy includes a wholesale attack on dealing with energy inefficient homes.”

Rhona Craddock, from the trade union Unison, spoke about the issue of pension funds investing in fossil fuels. “We all need to find out what our pensions funds are invested in and put pressure on for change,” she said.

Tynedale Transformed organiser, Penny Grennan, said events which brought like-minded people together on climate change were very important.

“People want to do things, but often they are unsure what. The importance of events like this is that we can all go away and realise that we can all do something,” she said.

“Whether that’s writing to your pension provider, or campaigning against a new coal mine in Cumbria.”

A full recording from the event called “Climate Day – Love your Planet” can be found on the Tynedale Transformed’s website: tynedaletransformed.org.