Week Ahead: Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission, eyes on Cheltenham's National Hunt Festival and a special St Patrick's Day

Yorkshire launches the UK’s biggest climate commission, as eyes turn to the racing world and a special St Patrick’s Day. John Blow   looks at the week ahead.


Climate Concerns

The Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission is set to launch formally this week, starting an independent partnership that will bring together representatives from the private, public and civic sectors to tackle the environmental crisis.

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The focus of the biggest such commission in the UK will be on reducing carbon emissions as quickly as possible, and ensuring people in the region are prepared to cope with the impacts of climate change such as flooding, heatwaves and sea level rise.

A focus on the climate has come to the fore in the region in recent years following repeated deluges that have led to hugely damaging and costly floods around Yorkshire, but particularly in areas such as Calderdale and the Doncaster area.

Speakers at the launch on Wednesday night will include Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central and Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Beckie Hart, director for Yorkshire and the Humber’s branch of the Confederation of British Industry and Rachael Bice, chief executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

The Commission’s creation has been backed by the Yorkshire and Humber Leaders Board and the 22 councils across the region.

Other “key partners” include the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Northern Powergrid, Northern Gas Networks, the Trades Union Congress, Yorkshire Universities and the University of Leeds.

Baroness Judith Blake, former leader of Leeds City Council, and Coun Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, previously said: “The Commission will encourage even greater investment in low carbon, climate resilient developments that create benefits for everyone, including a just transition for workers.

It will also give Yorkshire and the Humber a louder, clearer and unified voice with which to call for the changes and support that we need to see at the national level so that we can achieve net-zero as swiftly as possible.”

National Hunt

The coming week will see the eyes of the sporting world on Cheltenham for the annual National Hunt Festival.

A year after it controversially went ahead in 2020 with 50,000-plus crowds each day as the county moved into lockdown, there will be no spectators present in the shadow of Cleeve Hill.

However the event will be facing intense scrutiny from animal rights activists after a damaging photo emerged recently of former Gold Cup-winning trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead hose.

He’s now serving a six month ban but his horses have been switched to the licence of Denise Foster and their success, or otherwise, will be one of the defining narratives of the week.

St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day will take on a deeper resonance over the Atlantic on Wednesday as President Joe Biden has proudly shown his Irish immigrant heritage.

The US Congress designated March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1991 and the sitting president issues a proclamation commemorating the occasion each year. Originally a religious holiday to honour St Patrick, a fifth-century missionary who helped develop Christianity in Ireland, the day itself has evolved into a celebration of the country.

Some 30.4 million or 9.2 per cent of US residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2019, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Biden’s great-grandfather, James Finnegan, emigrated from County Louth as a child, in 1850.

All eight of his great-great-grandparents on his mother’s side were born in Ireland, according to reports, as well ancestors on his father’s side of the family.