Here we are in May with the weather worsening worldwide, the climate and ecological emergency hurtling into catastrophe, the ecocidal corporations holding annual meetings greenwashing their greed, and the voters fobbed off with local elections while we all wait for our general election, which in turn will be eclipsed by the American presidential election.

To unpack that a little, 30 years ago when scientists agreed about the emergency we faced if we continued to burn fossil fuels, they thought there was time to find solutions. 

What they didn’t know then was that the greed of big oil and the apathy of governments would mean almost nothing was done for decades. Just some individual recycling, which it turns out was being burnt because we have too many incinerators needing feeding and the rubbish available is diminishing. 

Three examples from current annual meetings:

Yorkshire power station Drax burns wood pellets, many of which come from North American forests, to the horror and harm of people there and for us UK taxpayers who subsidise Drax at more than £2 million a day while it produces over 12 million tons of CO2 a year. 

Drax remains by far the largest single CO2 emitter in the UK power sector, though transport traffic emits more.

Shell spends more on public relations advertising than they do on renewables, yet on May 21, at their AGM they will try to convince their shareholders they are green.

Ham & High: Dorothea Hackman says that the tower on Museum Street will damage the heritage of the areaDorothea Hackman says that the tower on Museum Street will damage the heritage of the area (Image: Archant)

So turning now to local planning in Camden:

Not even the Greater London Authority (GLA) could save Museum Street from the 74m high tower overshadowing the British Museum and Hawksmoor's St George’s Church. 

The harm to the heritage of the area was put forward by historical societies to no avail. There will be demolitions and the result of this developer profit will be a huge bulky building out of keeping with the neighbourhood. Why do we do this?

Then we have the Euston Tower planning application: its construction would contribute 6% of Camden’s greenhouse gas emissions, 55 thousand tonnes from steel, concrete, cement and energy often sourced from worldwide harmful extraction. 

There is the usual greenwashing obfuscation we find in planning applications now, claiming sustainability, but it is developer profit again, and for the increased floor space there is a failure to meet the GLA's aspirational target for new office buildings.

We need to be retrofitting our existing buildings, not demolishing and building monstrosities. 

In this context it is encouraging to see an alliance of local campaigners from Housing Rebellion, the Social Housing Action Campaign and Climate Emergency Camden tackling mould, disrepair and high energy bills to achieve safe low-energy housing for everyone in Camden. 

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  • Dorothea Hackman is chair of Camden Civic Society.