The local elections are almost here: time to exercise our democratic right to choose people and policies.

Does all this matter given what else is going on in the world? Yes! Politicians take their cue from public opinion.

If you care about safeguarding the world for our children and grandchildren, and protecting vulnerable communities at home and abroad, please read on. 

Climate Emergency UK recently ranked Camden 45th out of 182 councils on its response to the growing environmental crisis; Haringey comes in higher at 24th. But the scores for both councils are largely based on plans and formalities, rather than effective practical action. Barnet hasn't even declared a climate emergency.

Councils can take a lead in showing what can be done locally, nationally and globally. Climate Emergency Camden, a coalition of groups working on social and environmental issues, has pulled together a list of 10 things that councillors should do to deserve our vote. They can be equally applied in Barnet and Haringey.

Ham & High: Maya (left) and Dee want voters to ask council candidates questionsMaya (left) and Dee want voters to ask council candidates questions (Image: Archant)

Here are some questions you can ask candidates about what they would do to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. Which candidates will ensure your council:

  1. Has an effective public communications strategy that conveys clearly how far and quickly we must act and enables proper public scrutiny of council actions? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently said the world has until 2025 to stop emissions growing, so there's no time to lose.
  2. Provides better local facilities for recycling, and enables reuse and upcycling initiatives to flourish? This helps reduce emissions connected with production as well as landfill and incineration. Most councils' recycling facilities are inadequate, especially on housing estates, and collection for reuse and sharing services like libraries of things extremely limited.
  3. Ensures all departments change their policies and operations to cut their carbon emissions? Parks and gardens, schools, housing and highways in particular, can make a big difference.
  4. Respects local communities and supports essential local businesses through practical solutions such as restricting private cars during rush hours to cut air pollution, introducing a workplace parking levy and planting more trees to cool and purify the air in our streets?
  5. Lobbies Transport for London to improve public transport so that it is reliable and safe to use, prioritising road use for buses and cycles, and also acts itself to create attractive cycle and walking routes? Motor vehicles are a major source of greenhouse gases.
  6. Prioritises family-friendly, human scale development for sustainable, resilient communities, and supports through planning and other policies upgrading of existing housing and other buildings wherever possible rather than carbon-intensive redevelopment?
  7.  Has a programme to speed up insulation of homes and other buildings (including training schemes for local young people) to reduce carbon emissions and cut energy bills?
  8. Saves mature trees from destruction and over-pollarding, and increases the overall tree canopy in the borough on both private and public land?
  9. Protects biodiversity and improves everyone's quality of life by protecting green spaces from redevelopment, increasing the number of parks, encouraging de-paving of private gardens and driveways, and ending pesticide use by the council?
  10. Builds awareness of the devastating impact of climate change on the Global South? How will they involve communities who have family in affected areas?

CEC’s 10 requested policy pledges in full are on its website –

Maya de Souza and Dee Searle are members of Climate Emergency Camden’s steering group.

Ham & High: Demonstrators during a protest by members of Extinction Rebellion outside City Hall in AugustDemonstrators during a protest by members of Extinction Rebellion outside City Hall in August (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)