‘We must reduce carbon emissions and poverty at the same time’

Councillor Fleur Anderson Climate Emergency Speech, Wandsworth council, 17th July 2019

I fully support declaring a climate emergency, I welcome the petition and thank everyone who signed it, and thank and everyone who is here today to support this declaration and the action that must follow. Because this is the challenge – from now on we need to all agree that there can be no more ‘business as usual’.

The International Panel on Climate Change has told us that have just 11 years to make a radical shift in our carbon use. Quite simply we must stop taking fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them off.

Climate change and rising temperatures are a global emergency. For millions of people, it’s a stark and desperate choice: starvation or migration.

When I worked for Water Aid visited communities in Bangladesh where it’s beyond an emergency. Rising sea levels have made all of their agriculture land and their water saline. They cannot grow food and have very little drinking water, and whole coastal communities are trapped in poverty.

And it affects us in Wandsworth too – an increasing globally unequal world will be less safe, and the air pollution that comes with carbon emissions is damaging our health.

Declaring this emergency has some important red lines:

1. We must reduce carbon emissions and poverty at the same time

Our climate action must not be a luxury that residents can’t afford. Ways in which we can make life easier for families with already over-stretched budgets as well as reducing our carbon footprint should be the priority.

2. The Heathrow expansion will undermine all of our efforts and we must win the battle to stop it.

Heathrow’s 3rd runway will increase CO2 emissions from air travel from 37 to 43 million tonnes per annum. By comparison, according to the strategy paper Wandsworth’s carbon footprint (excluding schools and transport) is 26,576 tonnes.

260,000 extra flights – deliberately routed over our green spaces. Parking for 46,000 extra cars. It’s going to be a massive political battle to stop and Wandsworth must be leading the way

3. We have to be far more ambitious about cycling – with a revolution in two keys areas – storage and safety. We need cycle parking on every street, safe joined-up routes across the borough. The strategy has a very welcome aim, that: ‘Wandsworth will be an easy place to use, own and store a bicycle’. Although Wandsworth’s own cycling strategy has a more ambitious vision: A borough where people increasingly choose to cycle and where cycling is championed as a great way to travel.

4. Smart and bold timetabling to reach the two keys dates of net zero carbon by 2030 and zero carbon by 2050 is key. The last 20% of carbon reduction will be the hardest and plan for this from the start. Friends of the Earth have called this front-loading. It means no complacency or time to waste and many things happening in parallel not one project after the other.

5. Involving local people – the section on governance in the strategy is welcome. The involvement of the public needs to be formalised and the role of the Wandsworth Environment Forum isn’t mentioned but should be vital. We need regular public meetings at times in the decision making cycle when they can influence, and we need to build in ways to be open to great ideas and more public scrutiny that we’re used to.

6. We should have Environmental Impact Assessments for all new policies and programmes – alongside Equality Impact Assessments – would enable joined-up strategy and analyse all programme according to their carbon use and how much this is being reduced.

7. We must only use off-setting as a last resort. Where we can’t reduce our carbon we will off-set, but we should never start using this as the go-to answer to our carbon problems. Fossil fuel needs to stay in the ground and not be used.

It’s very important to be supporting this declaration and call to radical action together. But this is the easy part. What we do now and whether it’s enough and fast enough is down to us – lets put aside ‘business as usual’ and embrace radical action for making Wandsworth a better place for everyone right now, for the sake of communities around the world and for the sake of generations to come.

Author: Wandsworth Labour

News and opinion from Wandworth Labour councillors

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