For Energy Saving Week 2007, the Energy Saving Trust has assembled a group of eight different community groups – the C8 – to help us spread the word among their networks about the importance of energy saving in the fight against climate change. Our guest blogger this week, Fay Mansell, the Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, tells us why the WI could prove our secret weapon in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions.

“The WI is proud to be supporting Energy Saving Week today for Women’s Day as one of the ‘C8’ Communities.

The Energy Saving Trust’s latest research shows that WI members are really influential in their communities and have a good grasp of environmental issues. Well, another thing WI members do very well is talk – and given that there are more than 200,000 of them, when our members talk about an issue the word spreads very quickly through their extensive social networks!

Many people don’t realise it, but the WI has a long history of campaigning on environmental issues. As far back as 1926 we raised concerns about the pollution of the seas. As the threat of climate change grows, an increasing number of our members have been looking at ways to respond to this threat to our environment.

To help address these concerns, we launched the WI Carbon Challenge in June, which is designed for WI members and the general public to evaluate their carbon footprint and reduce it by 20% over the course of a year through simple lifestyle choices. Already more than 5,000 people have signed up – and you can, too. Please visit www.theWI.org.uk/carbonchallenge and see how easy it is to reduce your carbon footprint.

The Energy Saving Trust research reveals that women are much more likely than men to have good energy saving habits, so it’s fitting that women are the first C8 community to be represented in Energy Saving Week today on Women’s Day. In the developing world, women and girls are already suffering disproportionately as a consequence of climate change. Here in the UK women are more likely to be responsible for consumer and household choices and this places us in a powerful position to bring about the lifestyle behavioural changes necessary to minimise the impacts from climate change.

Today, representatives from the C8 organisations will come together to share their experiences of influencing their communities and to discuss how this could be applied to helping prevent climate change. Where we lead, we hope others will follow.”

Fay Mansell, Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes