Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs and Councillor Asma Islam, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, have written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in light of the COP26 to call for urgent action to tackle the climate emergency both in the UK and around the world.
The UK Government is currently hosting COP26 in Scotland, and this is a huge opportunity for the UK to radically shape global action on climate change and to shape how climate change is tackled on a global level.
Tower Hamlets Council, alongside its partners, has already taken a number of actions locally to combat climate change to make changes including ensuring the council uses 100% renewable energy, converting street lighting to LED, planting hundreds of street trees, and giving the go-ahead for 400 new electric vehicle charging points. However, the letter stresses that action is also needed on a national and international scale, and calls on the Government to be more ambitious.
The letter also criticises the Chancellor for failing to take steps within the recent Budget and Spending Review to get to grips with the climate crisis, and instead choosing to incentivise polluting air travel.
Tower Hamlets was this week named as the greenest area in the whole of England for its work in reducing carbon, having efficient homes, and for council spending on green initiatives [https://twitter.com/MayorJohnBiggs/status/1455509749919780870?s=20]
Councillor Asma Islam, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning said:
“COP26 is a huge opportunity for the UK to lead by example and shape global action on an issue that affects so many across the world, with the poorest bearing the brunt of our changing climate.
“Here at Tower Hamlets Council we are doing what we can to tackle the climate crisis, so that we will meet our pledge to become a net-zero carbon council by 2025, and a net-zero carbon borough by 2045, but more is needed on a national level by the Government.”
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:
“The climate emergency is not just a local issue, it affects everyone in the UK and across the world and we need urgent action. Therefore, it is a huge disappointment that the Chancellor’s recent budget did not include significant investment to tackle climate change or green jobs. This is why we are asking the Secretary of State to be as ambitious as possible in light of the platform the UK Government has been provided in hosting COP26 this week.”
Full Text of the Letter sent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dear Secretary of State
COP26 offers a huge opportunity to bring about the real and lasting change we need if we are to avoid the worst impacts of the climate emergency.
As you will agree, tackling the climate emergency can only happen if there is intensive action taken on a global scale, and we are writing to urge you and the Government to be as ambitious as possible, both in terms of the environmental targets that are set for the UK, but also in discussions with other countries to push them to take the urgent action that is so vital to our planet’s future.
We were disappointed that the Chancellor’s recent budget didn’t include significant investment in tackling the climate emergency, or on the opportunities to be gained through green jobs, and instead choosing to incentivise polluting air travel. We urge you to go further and to take bigger steps to tackle the crisis we face.
This week Tower Hamlets Council is unveiling its Net Zero Partnership Action Plan which sets ourselves ambitious but achievable targets, including how we will meet our pledge to become a net-zero carbon council by 2025, and a net-zero carbon borough by 2045.
Tower Hamlets Council declared a climate emergency in March 2019 and since then we have worked hard, alongside our partners, to make changes including ensuring the council uses 100% renewable energy, converting street lighting to LED, planting hundreds of street trees, giving the go-ahead for 400 new electric vehicle charging points, amongst many other steps set out here.
We are deeply concerned by the impact of climate change in the UK, but here in Tower Hamlets we are also acutely aware of the impact that climate change is already having on other countries, as our borough is home to people from many different parts of the world. It’s very clear that the poorest countries of the world are bearing the brunt of our changing climate and they need urgent action; Bangladesh, for example, is one of the countries hardest hit by extreme weather. We urge you to support a fair and just transition to Net Zero.
We will continue to do our bit as a local authority but we, as a council and as residents of Tower Hamlets, rely on the UK Government and governments around the world to take action on a global scale.
We urge you to be as ambitious as possible and hope that COP26 is successful in bringing about the urgent action that is needed to tackle the climate emergency both in the UK and around the world.
Mayor John Biggs
Cllr Asma Islam, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning