The climate emergency facing the world is the most serious threat that our planet, its people, and all forms of life all face.
Camden’s Labour administration has long taken this existential threat seriously. When we retook control of the town hall in 2010 from the incumbent Tory-Lib Dem administration, we did so on a pledge to appoint the council’s first ever dedicated cabinet member for sustainability. This we did – and my colleague Cllr Angela Mason who served in that role at that time, introduced our 10-year plan, Green Action for Change. Over that period, carbon dioxide emissions in Camden fell 38 percent, and we are set this year to meet the 40 percent fall targeted way back in 2010.
Of course, the IPCC’s warning of the limited time we have to halt catastrophic climate change means we need go further, and more urgently.
For this reason, Camden was the first council in the UK – possibly the world – to set up a Citizens’ Assembly on the climate and ecological emergency. Fifty Camden citizens last summer considered the evidence, deliberated, and presented 17 agreed-upon recommendations for the council to follow. In October 2019, at a meeting of the full council we passed a motion declaring an emergency – and last week adopted our new Climate Action Plan, with the 17 recommendations from the citizens at its heart.
Our new plan represents the first of two five-year plans for moving towards zero carbon by 2030. It sets the scene for activity mobilised around the themes of People, Places, Buildings and Organisations, This plan is firmly rooted in our values of fighting for social justice, drawing on the evidence, and being honest about the urgency of the situation.
Among the many actions envisaged in the plan, Camden Labour will:
require all new major building developments in the borough to be zero carbon
switch the council’s energy supplies to 100% renewable sources
bring in a sustainable procurement policy
increase tree planting to sequester carbon and cool the city
build new safe segregated cycle routes so that people can give up their cars
As Labour members, we know that we achieve more together than we do alone. Together with local residents, businesses, and community organisations we will work towards cutting carbon radically in the borough. The council will lead by example in this effort.
If you would like to get in touch to find out more or offer your help to achieve these goals in Camden, please get in touch.
Cllr Adam Harrison is Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden at Camden Council.