'Elect representatives who don't evade their climate responsibilities'

Climate activist Greta Thunberg arriving at Glasgow Central train station ahead of the COP26 summit

Climate activist Greta Thunberg arriving at Glasgow Central train station ahead of the COP26 summit - Credit: PA

In the urgency of a climate and ecological emergency, it is horrific to think that we in Camden have been recycling less than 30% and even that is apparently being burnt in the Edmonton incinerator polluting the air for deprived communities - an act of social and racial injustice by our council in our names.

Who has said we should burn plastic for energy, when we need to ban the manufacture of plastic entirely?

For detail of comparative incinerator costs and how much waste is incinerated at Edmonton, look at the websites: the proposed new Edmonton incinerator is 20-40% more expensive than others in the UK and massively oversized for what north London will need: starvethebeast.co.uk  @endblackbags stop-Edmonton-incinerator.org/ ukwin.org.uk

Even worse, these same Camden councillors we elected have just assented to the even larger incinerator being built. Even though this will become a massive financial liability as a stranded asset as we are compelled in good conscience and by global warming to recycle coherently. Why not instead build a state of the art recycling centre with those cunning infrared scanners filleting recyclables from our household waste? 

Come the local elections in May 2022, we need to interrogate every candidate before casting our votes on this and issues essential to humanity’s survival. COP26 has already left island states in the pacific to drown in rising seas and millions around the equator to starve in famine and drought.

We must elect representatives who will not evade our responsibilities, and will commit to the circular economy. We cannot continue business as usual however laudable standalone cycle lanes may be. 

Dorothea Hackman at a COP26 rally

Dorothea Hackman says we should halt everything that emits CO2 - Credit: COP26 TV

We should be halting everything that emits CO2 and building nothing new - no High Speed 2, no Edmonton incinerator, no more building luxury flats - just to bring our emissions to zero so global warming gets no worse, then we need to reverse our whole fossil fuel dependent economy. Of course this interferes with profits, but we are faced with a stark choice between that and human lives.

Camden Council needs to face up to this responsibility too, instead of a greenwashing climate action plan that proposes no significant action, and limits any usefulness from the citizen panel.

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The Camden plan tries to claim credit for community and individual initiatives and for the national grid moving to greener energy. There needs to be real action from the council itself.

For example, they plan to retrofit fewer than 200 of the 33,000 council homes, when we urgently need to at least insulate every building in the borough, reduce all scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and consider embodied carbon in construction.

There is immediate need for a joint sub-committee to provide scrutiny on the actions being taken by Camden Council on the climate and ecological crises. There is currently no scrutiny system in place to ensure we adapt and mitigate. To do this we need scrutiny to call for the relevant information and call to account. Camden could be a leading local authority instead of shying away from urgent decisions.

Euston Foodbank has stayed open over the festive season - there is a rolling number of up to 300 households a week seeking support. This demand has continued to increase with the pandemic and austerity, and there are impending energy costs and tax increases that will push even more families into poverty and our most vulnerable into destitution. We are so grateful for the support we receive from people in the community and the businesses around us. The Trussell Trust half year statistics show that Euston Foodbank is providing  85% of the emergency food packages in the borough, we couldn’t do this without your support: Thank you and Happy New Year!

Another issue is to get back our green spaces and trees from High Speed 2. They must replace St James Gardens, return Euston Square Gardens, and regenerate Adelaide Road Woodland. It is inexcusable to deprive our community of the balm of mature trees and green and open spaces, when this need is even greater in a climate emergency. 

Dorothea Hackman is chair of the Camden Civic Society