Tower Hamlets Council agreed a motion from the Labour Group last week which called on the UK Government to provide local authorities with the necessary resources to take further action against climate change, and to provide more public investment in green projects across the UK.

The UK Government was the host of COP26 this month, and this was a huge opportunity for the UK Government to lead by example and show to the world that the UK is serious on confronting the Climate Emergency.

While Tower Hamlets Council is already leading on a range of initiatives to combat climate change, including the launch of our Net Zero Carbon (NZC) Partnership Action Plan to make the Council Net Zero Carbon by 2025, and the borough net zero by 2045, action is needed on a global scale.

The motion also commits the council to continue working with its partners and residents to reduce our carbon footprint, and to increase the borough’s recycling rates.

Councillor Asma Islam, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning said:

“Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing all countries around the world, and I am proud of the work the Council has done and continues to do, but there needs to be more support from the UK Government.

“This motion presses this point and encourages us all to work together to ensure better investment in green projects across the UK, and to ensure the UK can lead by example on the global stage so progress is made.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:

“The climate emergency is not just affecting Tower Hamlets, it is affecting countries across the world. We are 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. Bangladesh, for example, is one of the countries hardest hit by extreme weather.

“But more locally unstopped global warming will cause serious flood risks in the East End, will affect the production of food we depend on, will cause massive refugee problems that will affect us all, and will cause massive economic disruption that will massively affect our economy and security. So its not a ‘faraway problem’.

“Tower Hamlets Council decided last week to lead by example by approving this motion unanimously, showing this is not a political issue – it is an issue which needs to be addressed in order to secure our future.”


Full Text of the Motion regarding COP26


This Council notes that:


  1. The UK Government was the host of COP26, held in Scotland in November 2021. This was an opportunity for the UK Government to radically shape global action on climate change, and to use the opportunity to shape how climate change is tackled in the UK.


  1. In March 2019 the Council declared a Climate Emergency setting an ambitious target of becoming a Net Zero Carbon Council by 2025.


  1. In March 2020, the Council hosted the Climate Engagement event, and it then on behalf of the PEG set up the Climate Task Force representing key stakeholders and partners as identified by the PEG.


  1. The Council has just launched the Net Zero Carbon (NZC) Partnership Action Plan.


  1. The Council has already taken a number of actions locally to combat climate change, including:


    1. Sustainable Workplace programme to encourage sustainable behaviours for council employees including: promoting resource efficiency, reduction in single use plastics and elimination of plastic cups from buildings, introduction of food waste collection to council offices to reduce waste being sent to landfill and incineration.
    2. Adopted Local Plan policies that require all new development to achieve net zero carbon status.
    3. Review of council Assets for Zero Carbon retrofit feasibility. Proposals include transitioning to low carbon heating and hot water systems and LED lighting, these projects will reduce carbon emissions by 105 tonnes a year.
    4. Completed initial feasibility for decarbonisation of Barkantine Heat and Power district heating network.
    5. Promoting Trees for Streets
    6. Council purchasing 100% renewable energy
    7. Retrofitting schools projects
    8. Solar Together London
    9. Sustained investment through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund
    10. Sustained investment in public transport to support a just transition


  1. Tower Hamlets has been named the most eco-friendly local authority in England in a study published by In Your Area, which found that the borough has the lowest carbon emissions in the country and it is the best in the UK for energy-efficient homes.


  1. According to figures published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Tower Hamlets is the third-worst borough for recycling in London.


  1. Defra figures also show that Tower Hamlets was the fourth-worst local authority for recycling in the whole of the UK in 2019/20.


  1. A report published by the Council showed that the recycling rate per household was just 19.5 percent between April and June this year – significantly lower than the UK average of 46.2 percent.


  1. Regularly misses recycling and refuse collections potentially disenfranchises residents from recycling.


  1. Our borough’s household refuse and recycling must be collected on time and our streets cleaned regularly. Residents need to see that the Council is leading the way to make our borough both clean and green.


This Council believes:


  1. This summer has seen more evidence of the immediate impact of climate change across the world, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Report, published in August 2021, found that the global surface temperature will continue to rise until at least the middle of this century. This shows the need for more ambitious and immediate action to tackle this climate emergency at a local, national and international level.


  1. The Council has made significant progress but must continue to press its partners and the UK Government for a wider solution while leading by example.



This Council resolves to:


  1. Ask the Mayor and the Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning to raise this motion with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to:


    1. Call for the UK Government to provide local authorities with the necessary resources to take further action against climate change, and to support a fair and just transition to a Net Zero Carbon UK.


    1. State our support for more public investment in green projects across the UK to tackle the Climate Emergency.


  1. Continue to work with local residents, businesses and council partners to encourage them to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint in order to achieve our net zero commitment.


  1. That a targeted approach by the Council to ensure that the Borough is no longer the fourth worst local authority for recycling.


  1. That a concerted effort is made by the Council to ensure that recycling is collected on time without ANY missed collections.


  1. The Council to carry on exploring bringing in reusable recycling bags, which will eventually replace the plastic recycling bags.


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