'Time for the government to face up to the climate emergency'

Cllr Mike Hakata

Cllr Mike Hakata - Credit: Haringey Council

The government’s unprecedented response to the global coronavirus pandemic proves that they can mobilise resources to meet an international crisis.

In stark contrast, their financial and statutory support though to another global catastrophe – the climate emergency – hasn’t been anywhere near as comprehensive and thorough. To call it "piecemeal" is frankly an exaggeration and they need to do a lot more, and very soon, if we are ultimately to meet all our environmental goals and objectives in two decades’ time.

Our Haringey Climate Change Action Plan sets out a series of clear actions for tackling the climate emergency

The council has lobbied central government and the mayor of London for aspects that we know are important to our communities here in Haringey as they’ve told us that they are, such as VAT to be scrapped on refurbishment costs and tax breaks for community energy projects.

We need urgent financial support to confidently reach our goal of becoming a net zero borough by 2041. We need legislation to ensure that planning and other environmental regulation not only enables the supply of truly affordable eco homes, but protects and expands local biodiversity, woodland and trees, wetlands and meadows too.

We are not sitting around waiting. We have embarked on ambitious programmes and begun the process of retrofitting out thousands of council homes. With government investment in the infrastructure, skills and jobs, this could be achieved in record time.

With motor traffic being the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, we are radically transforming our transport infrastructure to generate the modal shift needed.

However, for this to be successful, we need funding on a much greater magnitude for the physical infrastructure, along with complementary measures and incentives such as discount cycling, road user charging and scrappage schemes.

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Communities are ready and eager to work in collaboration with local authorities to bring about far-reaching and rapid change. Their will and resolve at local level have never been stronger, but we’ll only be able to truly transform at the speed needed when central government steps in to support and boost our efforts.

Finally, I’d encourage everyone in our borough to read – and take on board – the Haringey Climate Change Action Plan by visiting the following website https://www.haringey.gov.uk/environment-and-waste/going-green/net-zero-carbon-haringey.

Cllr Mike Hakata (Lab) is deputy leader of Haringey Council and cabinet member for environment, transport and the climate emergency.