'For me climate change is a social justice issue'

Parents walk their children to school in Hornchurch, Essex, past stationary vehicles near to the sch

Haringey Council are accelerating their school streets programme - Credit: PA Images

Climate change continues to dominate headlines around the world and as we have seen with the recent COP26 event, feelings run high when it comes to this emotive subject.

I have made it a priority to ensure Haringey is playing its part in tackling this as a borough.

For me climate change is a social justice issue. We need to make the case repeatedly that this is about fairness. It is the poorest communities that suffer most from climate change: the worst air pollution, the worst access to public transport, the fewest trees, and green spaces.

Pollution and poor air quality are dr​ivers of the health inequalities in the borough, with our least well off BAME residents being disproportionately hit.

Families on low incomes tend to live in the most polluted areas of London, they also suffer damp and homes which are expensive to heat due to housing conditions such as overcrowding and insufficient insulation. Residents in the bottom 40% of the income distribution are almost twice as likely to report poor health than those in the top 20%.

Cllr Peray Ahmet, leader, Haringey Council

Cllr Peray Ahmet sys Haringey Council has committed to being net zero by 2041 - Credit: Haringey Council

From now on all council projects must positively impact carbon emissions and we have committed to making Haringey a net zero carbon borough by 2041.

This isn’t just about planting more trees, it’s also about building safe and decent council homes. We have committed to building 3,000 in the next 10 years – all of which will be built with the presumption of zero carbon. We are also retrofitting existing homes, not only to reduce carbon emissions but to keep down the cost of rising household bills.

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We are insulating Haringey.

We also want to make our streets cleaner and healthier through low traffic neighbourhoods. Our Walking and Cycling Action Plan, seeks to make Haringey’s streets and neighbourhoods safer by prioritising pedestrians: more than half of Haringey residents don’t have a car and reducing health inequalities through providing cleaner air.

It is children who are most affected by pollution, so we are accelerating our school streets programme and we already have 17 in place and creating safe, unpolluted zones outside schools.

We have decarbonised our pension fund, the council’s biggest carbon contributor and have set up the Haringey Community Carbon Fund where we are offering will offer a range of grants to everyone from small resident groups to larger organisations of up to £50,000 to support community-led projects that empower local residents and reduce carbon emissions.

We have an enormous shift to make if we are really going to green our cities. We have to retrofit our homes, reengineer road space, reduce car journeys.

Haringey is striving to be a leader on this in London.

Peray Ahmet (Lab, Noel Park) is leader of Haringey Council.

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