Opinion: High-level cooperation is the key to tackling the extreme climate challenges we face
PUBLISHED: 10:30 20 June 2019
Climate emergency action has brought new energy a vigour to people's involvement in their local environment.
Camden Civic Society (CCS) supports this by setting up a Climate Emergency committee to include the already existing air quality, green and open spaces and trees committee that has been meeting with Camden Council and a High Speed 2 working group for several years.
People are welcome to hear more at our summer garden party on July 24 and annual general meeting on November 7 - for details see camdencivicsociety.org
High Speed 2 (HS2) demolitions around Euston station with road closures and pollution are turning out to be the predicted nightmare for the local communities. Not only have hundreds of trees been felled and two hectares of green space permanently lost to the west of the station, but the invasion of "station rats as big as cats" disturbed by the relentless drilling of piledrivers that keep residents unable to concentrate, or sleep as well.
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Camden Momentum organised a public meeting on June 10 about HS2 with a timely showing of Duncan Pickstock's film "Whose line is it anyway?" at Netley school. In the discussion after we were reminded that only now is HS2 carrying out ground investigations, over two years after the legislation giving them permission for the enabling preparatory work. They still do not have permission from treasury and the government to proceed, as the actual cost spirals upward even from the £50-£100billion estimates. Yet the secretary of state has ignored the Civic Society's request for all demolition, tree felling and compulsory purchase to be stopped in the meanwhile. Camden has been stripped ready for profitable redevelopment irrespective of whether the railway goes ahead. And the London acquifer in the Colne Valley is imperilled by pile driving and tree felling regardless.
As well as the London action in mid April, Camden Extinction Rebellion (CamdenXR) are planning to publicise Clean Air Day the evening before with action near Camden Tube station at 5.30pm today (Wednesday June 19).
The Civic Society is supportive of CamdenXR with its empowering leadership of distributed responsibility. At a meeting on June 7 with Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer he acknowledged, despite the significant burden of Brexit, the primacy of the climate catastrophe. As a shadow cabinet member he has restrictions on talking from the floor in parliamentary debates, but he consistently opposes the HS2 rail project, Heathrow's proposed third runway, and fracking, which in XR's views are all incompatible with Parliament's Emergency declaration on May 1. Keir will raise with the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn MP for Extinction Rebellion to meet with the shadow cabinet and the shadow treasury team as a follow up to the national meeting between XR and Labour.
I am hopeful this level of cooperation can be established locally in Camden with Georgia Gould. It was a missed opportunity for Camden to join the first wave of local authorities declaring a climate emergency, as this fell off the full council agenda on April 8.
While this series of council organised meetings and website platform for suggestions doesn't actually meet the criteria to qualify as a citizens assembly, it should still prove a valuable opportunity for Camden residents to get involved in the discussion to shape some ways forward with solutions: banning single use plastic in the borough, halting all building on green spaces, enforcing no tree-felling and petrol and diesel vehicles on our quieter (non-transport for London) residential roads would be some great first steps.