On 11th October CEC made the following deputation to Camden Council about progress over the past two years to address the Climate and Ecological Emergency:
Whilst we are glad that Camden acknowledges the importance of Retrofit, and the skills training necessary for this work, we believe that Camden’s approach to the Climate Emergency should be wider and deeper. We think that effective action has been limited. This is partly because Camden does not address Scope 3 emissions, those carbon emissions that are generated by manufacturing and other processes outside the geographic boundaries of Camden. For most people in Camden the majority of their carbon footprint is made up of these consumption emissions. This is why in 2019 we asked Camden to initiate a Public Information Campaign to help explain the issues to residents and what steps they could take as individuals. When we met Georgia Gould in December 2019, she said that a public information campaign was being prepared. It has not yet materialised, although we have seen with Covid that Camden is able to do this.
One area where Camden has done well over the past two years is in extending the cycling infrastructure; we would encourage Camden to maintain momentum and increase the rate of implementing its proposed cycling network. Cycling and other forms of micro-mobility, such as e-scooters and cargo bikes are important for decarbonisation, and an essential aspect of localism. There is still a long way to go to achieve a safe cycling network borough-wide and its completion should be prioritised – usage and benefits will expand exponentially as the coverage grows.
Generally Camden has not made the changes to ‘business as usual’ that were promised. For example, there is still does not appear to be a plan in place to fully divest the Council’s pension fund from fossil fuel extraction. Another example is the continued support by councillors of the new Edmonton incinerator which will result in over-capacity and de-incentivise recycling. Many now realise that this is a national problem which needs a swift change in direction- Camden is making the wrong decision in refusing to ‘halt and review’ the current proposals.
There are other ways in which action on the climate crisis is being undermined: Camden’s planners do not give sufficient support to the retention of existing buildings but continually allow developers to demolish existing buildings and rebuild them, contrary to planning policies which prioritise their retention. In addition Camden Council has not properly examined the potential of retrofit solutions for its own housing stock in its Community Investment Programme. The very large carbon emissions that are caused by construction in Camden are not included in measurements of Scope 1 and 2 emissions. By ignoring these Scope 3 emissions, Camden is able to present more favourable progress.
Camden does not have a plan that results in actions that will lead to Zero Carbon by 2030. Nor does it have measurable targets for reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions. The report presented to Council today says that Camden’s borough-wide CO2 emissions have reduced by 43% since 2005, but this is mostly due to decarbonisation of the national grid and has little to do with Camden’s actions. Carbon emission reductions resulting from Camden’s actions should be measured and reported regularly. It is only then that we will be able to see what effective action Camden has taken.