HACKNEY LABOUR Group of councillors is putting forward proposals to the next Full Council meeting in support of Mayor Glanville’s declaration of climate emergency in Hackney last February.

Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet member for Energy, Sustainability and Community Services, said:

“Radical action to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions can deliver significant improvements in human welfare, with benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities and reduced social costs.

“Global warming is here, now, and is increasing the pace and intensity of climate change and associated ecological collapse.

“This declaration demonstrates that we are not only willing to meet our 2018 Manifesto commitments to help avert catastrophic global warming, but that we are also willing to take further action as and when the science demands it.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) October 2018 special report on the impacts of global warming made it clear what the world needs to do to address the climate emergency, and our motion reflects this sense of urgency in the level of decarbonisation to which Hackney Labour is committing.”

He added: “Despite almost 30 years of talks and collective global commitments such as those made at Paris in 2015, action at the national and global level to avert global warming catastrophe remains woefully inadequate.”

“All governments (national, regional and local) have a duty to limit the negative impacts of climate breakdown through rapid implementation of practical measures to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and municipalities should not wait for their national government to act.

“It is important for the residents of Hackney and the UK that local authorities commit to and, crucially, take practical steps towards carbon neutrality as quickly as possible.”

He emphasised: “The consequences of global temperature rising above 1.5°C are so severe that preventing this from happening must be humanity’s number one priority and therefore the highest political priority for all tiers of government.”

Among Labour’s proposals to the next Full Council on 26 June are:

  • Pledge to do everything within the Council’s power to deliver against the stretching targets set by the IPCC’S October 2018 1.5⁰C Report, across the local authority’s full range of functions, including a 45% reduction in emissions against 2010 levels by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2040, and seeking opportunities to make a greater contribution.
  • Call on the UK Government to provide powers and resources to make the 2030 and 2040 targets possible.
  • Actively campaign to change national policy where failure to tackle the challenge of heating our homes without fossil fuels, fossil fuel subsidies, insufficient carbon taxation, road-building, and airports expansion, for example, has actively undermined decarbonisation and promoted unsustainable growth.
  • Support the campaign to create a just transition for workers and users and be part of the creation nationally of a million public sector climate jobs with particular reference to extending sustainable accessible and integrated public transport, retrofitting housing stock, energy democracy, heating and cooling from renewable energy and eco build, food and waste.
  • Involve, support and enable residents, businesses and community groups to accelerate the shift to a zero carbon world, working closely with them to establish and implement successful policies, approaches and technologies that reduce emissions across our economy while also improving the health and wellbeing of our citizens.
  • Produce an annual update to Full Council on the progress made against the Council’s decarbonisation commitments, and conduct an annual Citizens Assembly comprised of a representative group of local residents to allow for effective public scrutiny the Council’s progress and to explore solutions to the challenges posed by global warming.
  • Work with other local governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5°C

Hackney Labour has already been driving the Council’s agenda to address climate breakdown with new commitments to, amongst other initiatives:

  • obtain 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by April 2019 as part of its route towards 100% renewable electricity this term
  • establish a publicly-owned energy company to extend 100% renewable electricity to households and invest in clean electricity generation
  • implement the world-leading ISO 50001 energy efficiency management system to reduce consumption of gas and electricity by improving energy efficiency in buildings and street lighting
  • produce a housing asset management strategy that commits to ensuring the borough does not let properties lower than EPC band C beyond 2030
  • reduce private vehicle use
  • radically reducing its consumption of the petro-chemical plastics through the latest edition of the Sustainable Procurement Strategy, eliminating corporate consumption of catering plastics, and work to eliminate single-use plastics from council-run community events
  • develop low carbon planning policy
  • decarbonise the Council’s fleet of vehicles
  • produce an Energy Strategy
  • produce a Green Infrastructure Plan to sequester carbon locally and mitigate the effects of a warming London
  • commit to cutting the Hackney Pension Fund’s exposure to future CO2 emissions in half by 2023

Background

  1. In October 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, which drew the sobering conclusion that we had just 12 years to take the action required to avoid warming of more than 1.5°C above the pre-industrial average.. Failure to do so will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people, with profound geopolitical consequences for all.
  2. Our activities have already raised average global temperatures in the region of 1°C above pre-industrial levels. The Met Office report that 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are the four warmest years on record in all surface temperature data sets. They have forecast that the 1.5⁰C of global warming limit agreed in Paris could be temporarily breached between now and 20232. The planet is currently on a trajectory of 3-4°C of warming by the end of the century.
  3. The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C concluded that “limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes” and that “the next few years are probably the most important in our history.”

Urgent action from national and local authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities is therefore vital.

  1. Together, and individually, we as a species must reduce our CO2eq (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions from their current world average of 6.5 tonnes per person per year to less than 2 tonnes as soon as possible4. With an average annual per capita CO2 footprint of circa 9 tonnes in the U.K, nothing less than the wholesale transformation of our economy and society is required to avert catastrophe.
  2. Individuals can make some valuable changes, but society needs to change laws, taxation, infrastructure, etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm. Maximising survival and minimising suffering requires an emergency response by all levels of government including local government. Any delay in implementing effective solutions will result in more avoidable loss and suffering. A deep structural response on-par with the level of mobilisation witnessed during the world wars will be necessary.

As part of the very early stages of this mobilisation, municipalities around the world are declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committing resources to address it. In the UK so far, numerous councils at all tiers of Local Government have already made this declaration, and on 1 May, the U.K Parliament officially became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.

It is not, however, satisfactory to merely ‘declare’ a climate emergency, we must take very practical steps to address the climate emergency.

 

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