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Camden Council announces overhaul of policies as it aims to be carbon-neutral by 2030

PUBLISHED: 13:35 08 October 2019

La Sante Union pupils Hareta and Gabrielle address the council. Picture: Camden Council

La Sante Union pupils Hareta and Gabrielle address the council. Picture: Camden Council

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Camden Council will review a number of key policies in its bid to go carbon-neutral by 2030, it was announced last night.

The borough's full council meeting heard from a variety of speakers, including school pupils, Extinction Rebellion activists and the citizens' assembly members.

They urged Camden to take swifter action, including divesting in its pension scheme, having one car-free week a month and speeding up its plans to tackle climate change. Officials are set to draw up final proposals by next year, but the council was urged to act faster.

Cllr Adam Harrison said the town hall will be expanding its sustainability team with a focus on "amplifying the voices of the young."

He added the council will be overhauling its divestment, decarbonisation and procurement strategies. However he stopped short of announcing specific changes.

Presenting a deputation to the meeting, Camden's UNISON branch secretary Liz Wheatley said: "We only have a decade to change our global carbon output. We know that the council isn't the worst carbon criminal, even in the borough. But that isn't the reason for not doing anything."

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To applause from the public gallery she said that the government's pension fund should be divested from fossil fuels. "We want a pension but we want a world to spend our retirement in," she said, urging them to take action before April next year.

Camden became one of the first boroughs in the UK to declare a climate emergency in April. It held a series of citizens assemblies over the summer on the climate crisis, resulting in a 17-point plan.

Two pupils from La Sante Union School, Gabriella and Haretta also addressed the meeting. They admonished adults for failing to take action. Gabrielle said it was "embarrassing that us 13 to 14-year-olds are having this conversation with you standing her telling you what to do when it should be the other way around."

Meanwhile Joanna Macrae from Climate Emergency Camden said current plans for a zero carbon Camden by 2030 doesn't go far enough.

"It's too slow. If we were in the grips of a disease or a war, you wouldn't ask us to wait for a year to see a plan. We want to see more meaningful change and for change to happen faster."

Green Party leader and Highgate councillor Sian Berry said there was a responsibility on councillors to act. She said: "It is the council that is elected now that will have to do the heavy lifting. We only have one Green councillor, so you will all have to act like Green councillors for the next three years!"

"We are saying that we are going to spend 1/3 of the time left this council making a plan on what to do . We could look at bringing that timetable forward."

Cllr Harrison said more work still needs to be done: "The climate emergency is the most serious threat that our planet and its people face. We have reduced carbon dioxide emissions in Camden by over 38% over the last 10 years, and we were very pleased that Friends of the Earth recently ranked Camden top in London for our climate work. But we know we need go further, more urgently - and the Citizens' Assembly process helped us sharpen our focus on what needs to be done."

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