Climate Emergency Camden have drawn up a list of pledges that it would like all candidates in May’s local election to endorse. Effective climate action by the Council has been limited and slow. Climate Emergency UK recently ranked Camden 45th out of 182 councils (with a score of 61%), so it certainly can do better. CEC’s pledges are as follows:
1. TAKE EMERGENCY ACTION
Roll out an honest public information campaign about what the Council needs to do.
No emergency action has been taken to date. Camden Council should implement an effective public communications strategy that conveys clearly how far and how quickly we need to go to cut carbon. The Council should take appropriate action and put in place proper scrutiny of Council actions.
2. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
Provide better local facilities for recycling, and enable reuse and upcycling initiatives to flourish, in order to reduce carbon emissions and ecological damage globally, and to reduce rubbish sent to landfill and incinerators.
The Council should develop and promote the Circular Economy in Camden, rapidly and at scale; explain the need to reduce consumption; take waste reduction seriously and overhaul the waste services contract to radically improve the Council’s recycling service; reduce its own consumption; rapidly expand the reuse and upcycling sector, which will benefit local people and create jobs, and “pause and review” the incinerator plans, to ensure the NWLA supports a green transition rather than undermining it before it is even developed.
3. STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL
Ensure Council contracts put the environment first by developing low-carbon and wildlife-friendly services. Remove all Council’s pension funds from companies that support fossil fuel extraction.
All council employees to apply the CEE lens and consider what can be done differently within their departments: Greenspace and trees; Social Services; Housing; Schools; Construction and maintenance; Refuse collection and recycling; Transport and Highways. All council services and procurement to be reviewed to improve mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change, and to halt ecological destruction.
4 RESPECT LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Save our high streets by reducing traffic and supporting essential local businesses to help create self-sustaining local communities.
Restrict private cars during rush hours to cut air pollution; introduce the Workplace Parking Levy; plant more trees to cool and purify the air in our streets. Support local businesses through inward investment.
5. REDUCE THE NEED FOR CARS
Stand up to TFL to improve public transport so that it is reliable and safe to use.
Reduce carbon emissions caused by cars: prioritise road use for buses and cycles; create attractive cycle and walking routes; make dangerous roads safe for cyclists. (Yet again this March a cyclist has been killed at Camden’s Holborn junction. How many more deaths will the council tolerate?).
6. STOP OVERDEVELOPMENT
Promote family friendly, human scale development for sustainable, resilient communities. Upgrade existing buildings wherever possible to meet housing and commercial need, and avoid needless, carbon-intensive demolition and redevelopment.
Require low carbon and natural construction materials to be used in new development, including the Council’s own projects.
7. RETROFIT ALL BUILDINGS IN CAMDEN
Insulate buildings to reduce carbon emissions and cut air pollution and energy bills. Work with businesses to cut their carbon footprint
Commercial buildings are responsible for 60% of Scope 1 and 2 CO2e emissions. The Council must do more to engage with the commercial sector, and invest in construction skills training as a matter of urgency.
8. SAVE OUR TREES
Save mature trees from development and over-pollarding. Increase the overall tree canopy in the borough on both private and public land.
Ensure that the contribution of trees to the environment and air quality is understood and reflected in planning decisions; plant trees for climate mitigation and adaptation; plan new spaces for large trees.
9. PROTECT NATURE
Prevent the loss of green spaces through redevelopment and increase the number of parks. End the use of pesticides and chemicals, for the benefit of people, animals and plants.
Encourage de-paving of private gardens and driveways; provide funding for porous paving on private and public land.
10. BUILD CLIMATE SOLIDARITY
Promote awareness of the impact the Climate Emergency is having on the Global South, using examples from communities present in Camden, including Sylhet in Bangladesh and Somalia.
Work with a whole range of communities in Camden to programme events; promote Fair Trade and other ways of working with local business communities; be aware of the impact of expanding industries that extract minerals and hurt people and the environment.