Opinion: The ball’s finally rolling on climate change

David Winskill supports the many local initiatives tackling the climate emergency.

David Winskill supports the many local initiatives tackling the climate emergency. - Credit: Archant

In the chaotic few days before the Tory regicide came the news that the UK is to ban plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers.

For a government that has given up governing, this relatively minor (but important) prohibition to become law indicates just how far Extinction Rebellion have propelled the environment and the climate crisis up the agenda.

In other news, The Guardian has announced that it is amending its style guide to better reflect the mess we are making of the planet. So, to fall in line with Angela Merkel and the pope, I've used the phrase climate crisis rather than climate change.

This reflects a shifting mood as more of us wonder how we can do our bit to contribute to international targets to restrict global temperature rises to two degrees or less.

Locally, the Plastic-Free Crouch End Group is working with shops to reduce the madly unnecessary and toxic use of plastics. Defra is busy consulting on plastic packaging to both reduce use and to establish clarity and bring the end to the "can I orcan't I recycle?" dilemma.

If we're honest with ourselves, we know mass air travel is unsustainable. Aircraft have become cleaner but the cumulative number of passenger miles is up an incredible 60 per cent over the 12 years to 2017. This means 163 million tonnes of CO2 produced by European passenger flights alone.

No one is suggesting that flying should be banned but we should stop seeing it as a right and start thinking of alternatives.

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The mayor of London wants to reduce CO2 emissions by 60pc by 2025 and this means reducing car use. Haringey has been working with the mayor's office on the Local Neighbourhood Initiative that will transform the way we get into and move around in Crouch End by getting us out of cars and encouraging us to walk, cycle and use public transport.

Known as Liveable Crouch End, the project has been holding a series of consultation events and workshops, including with local schools, and has just published a pre-engagement report that set out the scheme's main areas of focus:

- Pavements and pedestrian areas

- Air quality

- Cycling infrastructure and safety

- Traffic volume and speed

The actual measures are likely to include traffic reductions in residential areas; reallocation of road-space for pedestrians; changes to parking availability.

This will create a much more attractive and pedestrian friendly town centre but there are worries about the impact on deliveries to our shops and small businesses.

It is not a question of if the LNI happens, but rather how we make it happen.

We need an open and honest engagement to ensure that all members of our community have their voices, concerns and ideas heard.

If we get this right, Crouch End could become cleaner, greener and a model of real, not token, environmental management at an important juncture in our future.

- You can find out more about the LNI at crouchendforum.org.uk/liveable-crouch-end-summer-season-update-may-2019/