Opinion: The silent majority is keen to save the planet

Maya da Souza and Farhana Yamin, Dartmouth Park Talks

Maya da Souza and Farhana Yamin, Dartmouth Park Talks - Credit: Archant

The beginning of this new decade has come with a reminder of the climate crisis we face. The UK suffered severe flooding before Christmas with nearly two thousand properties underwater.

On the opposite side of the world, Australians debated cancellation of their New Year's fireworks as wildfires bore down on large cities, destroying an area the size of Ireland along with thousands of homes and millions of animals lost. Jakarta was inundated, and a city of over 10million people will have to move. And locusts swarms in East Africa are creating the conditions of famines of biblical proportions.

From being a far-off threat, climate impacts are now very real. Yet, too few governments are treating it with urgency and other priorities dominate the short term. So once again we come in our column to the question of what we can do, individually and collectively, and how we can use our influence as citizens to fast track action.

For certain, it is an exciting time for the UK - full of potential for us to influence others. The UK is hosting a major UN climate conference in Glasgow this November to set the next round of targets under the Paris Agreement. The eyes of the world will be on the UK's leadership and a lot of diplomatic work will be needed if the UK is to persuade the largest emitters to ratchet up their efforts to put ourselves on the right trajectory of a global phase of pollution by 2050. Anyone following global politics will not be under any illusions as to this being an easy ask.

But what has been so inspiring last year and this year is the groundswell of action across the world, nowhere more so than Camden, we'd say. Camden Council held the UK's first climate citizens' assembly in July and declared a climate and ecological emergency in October. It has just released its Climate Action Plan for the crucial next five years. The draft plan sets out ambitious goals for decarbonising Camden by 2030. We'd encourage residents to contribute their ideas and encourage the council to maintain its resolve to act with ambition. The deadline is February 28 and it can be found here.

Taking note of demands from various community groups, the council has supported the creation of a community action space called Camden Think and Do on Kentish Town High Street. This has been an incredible success and led to cross-fertilisation of ideas and intense collaboration between groups setting up new projects identifying what they can do individually and collectively. Think and Do has held over 80 events examining how citizens can take up opportunities to influence and shape our own area and come up ideas tackling buildings, transport, food, and our buying habits. Many of these ideas are now part of Camden Council's five year Climate Change Plan.

Camden is, we are convinced, a pioneer in showing how people can mobilise and channel their collective energies, entrepreneurial spirit, and brain power, into a creative problem-solving force. This willingness to change can encourage action by other councils, cities and ultimately put pressure on governments to act with sufficient ambition.

Phase 2 of Camden Think & Do starts on Thursday, February 13, a day before the next global student strike. We'd encourage readers to reflect on how much has already been achieved since last year's first global strike and to think about attending Think & Do or other discussions, whichever borough they live in, to help develop ideas and then feed them back to their councils. Politicians need to know that the silent majority is keen to save the planet.

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Think and Do can be found at 315 Kentish Town Road. It will open from 8am-6pm Monday - Saturday. For details, visit: thinkanddocamden.org.uk/ (the website will go live on February 13).