'Our government seems to be drowning in greenwash'

The new National Audit Office report "will make further uncomfortable reading for Alok Sharma"

The new National Audit Office report "will make further uncomfortable reading for Alok Sharma" - Credit: André Langlois

As the recent north London floods have shown us, the climate crisis is already here.

Extreme floods across Germany and Europe have ravaged towns and homes, killing hundreds of people. Heat domes and extreme heat waves in Canada and North America have shocked climate scientists.  

With current UK carbon targets falling woefully short of the net zero dream – think Boris Johnson’s possible oil explorations in Shetland, HS2 destroying ancient habitats and aviation targets, with more loopholes than a sieve… Our government seems to be drowning in greenwash.

So this new National Audit Office report will make further uncomfortable reading for Alok Sharma, minister leading on COP26. It reveals "serious weaknesses in central government’s approach to working with local authorities on decarbonisation, stemming from a lack of clarity over local authorities’ overall roles, piecemeal funding, and diffuse accountabilities".

Clearly, there’s still a lack of clarity and coordination from central to local government in achieving net zero, including fractured funding and confusion on how money should be spent. The muddled messaging from the top is a disaster for emergency thinking. 

So what can we do? From Grenfell to the Covid crisis, local communities are taking matters into their own hands.

Similarly, XR Haringey, with other local eco groups, are urging the council to take direct action to try to get us back on track. 

This NAO emphasises "direct engagement with local people" and XR are asking Haringey to upgrade democracy by holding citizens’ assemblies, giving locals the chance to address climate and ecological issues and come up with intelligent solutions. 

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We ask Haringey to tell residents the truth about our climate crisis – global warming is already 1.02 degrees centigrade, we’re way beyond the Paris agreement targets now. We need ambitious plans to decarbonise transport and support active travel, stronger tree protections, less waste and improved recycling as well as ethical pension investments in the green economy. 

A pause and review on plan to rebuild the Edmonton Incinerator is vital. We need councillors to take action on flooding defences and extreme temperatures – retain mature trees to cool streets, upgrade drainage systems and be innovative – such as tax breaks to residents who don’t concrete over their front gardens for cars.

We are teeming with ideas for a better world– Haringey just needs to listen.

Giovanna Iozzi is from XR Haringey and a Haringey Resident.