We have declared a climate emergency in Tower Hamlets. The evidence not only shows this, but also shows the extreme consequences we all face if we don’t take immediate action.
We are very supportive of the petition calling for action on climate change, brought to the full council meeting in March 2019.
40 per cent of residents in Tower Hamlets live in areas that breach EU and government guidance on safe levels of air pollution and it’s the fifth worst borough in London for air pollution.
Our election manifesto promised to tackle poor air quality, and as a council we’re taking big steps to play our part. We’re already committed to achieve a 60% carbon dioxide emissions reduction by 2020 from our own operations, and we will start work now with an action plan with the aim of becoming a zero-carbon council by 2025. Our current Carbon Management Plan will be updated by the end of the year to help us achieve this ambitious target.
Locally, our Breathe Clean campaign was launched – this is about tackling air pollution across the borough and raising awareness about what can be done to improve air quality
As part of this campaign, we’ve launched an initiative to set up ‘School Streets’ near local schools where some roads are closed entirely to traffic and others have timed restrictions based around the school day. This will help to reduce air pollution around our schools
We’ve also set up an Air Quality Fund, worth £200,000, for residents and community groups to help deliver projects that tackle air pollution. Residents or groups can bid for funding, and successful bids have included a primary school who applied to install a green screen around a nursery, and a housing provider who applied to install electric charging points.
We’re also working to make it easier for residents and visitors to use bicycles in the borough, and to use public transport instead of cars.
More broadly we’re also encouraging residents to recycle more, to prevent more food going to landfill.
But while tackling air pollution locally is important, we need others to play their part too. The reality is that we need urgent action on a global level to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Mayor John Biggs said: “Research shows that children’s lungs in Tower Hamlets have up to 10% less lung capacity than normal. Politicians everywhere need to listen to the message from young people that if we don’t change our actions now we will leave a legacy of a climate emergency. We are taking steps across the borough to reduce our impact on the planet.”
Cllr Rachel Blake, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Air Quality said: “We are declaring a climate emergency in Tower Hamlets. We have already been taking action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through our Breathe Clean campaign and our Carbon Management Plan, and we will now be producing an action plan with the aim of becoming a zero-carbon council by 2025.”