Opinion: Have your say on how to save the planet

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould is inviting residents to have their say on the climate. Picture:

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould is inviting residents to have their say on the climate. Picture: PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

“Hope is contagious” is the title of an interview published this week between climate activists Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of the challenges we face as a planet but it was hope I felt in March when I watched young people, many from Camden, fill the streets around parliament demanding action on the climate crisis.

They broke through the news agenda and changed the political debate in this country. Young people are leading a powerful cross-generational climate emergency movement, not just with a sense of anger about the challenges we face, but with a sense of excitement and optimism about their ability to shape the world they will inherit.

As the school strikes and extinction rebellion are highlighting, we are in an emergency situation. If we do not act swiftly and robustly to keep global heating under 1.5°C, there will be catastrophic impacts to life on earth. Rising sea levels and desertification changing the face of our planet. Crop failure, leading to loss of livelihoods and starvation. Water shortages.

In Camden, we are determined to face these challenges head on. Our work on climate change has seen carbon emissions in Camden reduce by 37 per cent since 2010 but we know we will need radical new solutions to take the steps necessary to get to a zero carbon future. It will need all the ideas, creativity and leadership of our communities to change things in Camden and far beyond.

This is why, on Monday night in Swiss Cottage, Camden became the first borough in the country to hold a Citizens' Assembly on the climate crisis.

Camden Citizen Assembly members, who are Camden residents and representative of our borough's diverse demographic, took their first look at the four levels at which we are trying to reduce emissions. These are in our homes, in our streets and neighbourhoods, borough-wide through council policy and pan-London and beyond.

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We have the opportunity to imagine together a more sustainable and equitable future and we want to invite everyone in Camden to help us.

Throughout July we will be asking you all to contribute your suggestions on how we can reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and improve the natural environment here in Camden. You can have your say at camdenclimateassembly.commonplace.is/

While the Assembly's findings and proposals will directly feed into our full council meeting in October and a new environmental plan for Camden in 2020, it will also seek to develop and test community schemes and initiatives in the summer and autumn.

Initiatives you can help lead - whether that is car-free experiments in your street, tree-planting schemes or community-led energy projects.

Camden has always led the way in fighting for radical social change. The climate emergency will test our society - our commitment to fairness and equality, our ability to share the burden of change, our protections for the most vulnerable.

We are all the custodians of Camden and the world for current and future generations and so have a duty and responsibility to do everything we can to safeguard their future environment.