CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Camden is now legally committed on the climate and ecological emergencies

17 September, 2020

The existing Edmonton incinerator

• ON September 7 Camden Council became the UK’s first local authority to embed legal duties related to the climate and ecological emergency in its constitution.

Climate Emergency Camden and Extinction Rebellion Camden lobbied for these changes, and we are delighted that the decision to include these amendments attracted support from all parties.

More than two-thirds of all local authorities around the country have declared a climate emergency. Camden is the first to make constitutional changes to translate such a declaration into legal obligations, so binding the council to act.

There are three main elements to the changes.

First, one of the primary duties of councillors is now to “…act to mitigate and ensure resilience to climate change in recognition of the declared climate emergency”.

Second, scrutiny committees have a new responsibility to assess the effects of council policies and operations on greenhouse gas levels and on “risks posed by climate change”.

Finally, it is now a legal requirement that the council “consider the likely environmental consequences” of decisions, including by acting to “mitigate and adapt to climate change, recording and detailing that consideration within the decision-making report”.

Covid-19 has served as a stark reminder of the fragility of our livelihoods and wellbeing and the need to safeguard our communities in the face of the wider climate and ecological crisis.

The constitutional changes that have been pioneered by Camden mean that councillors now have the power and responsibility to make the transformative changes that we so desperately need. It will be vital to ensure that all council decisions are indeed bound by these new rules.

Most pressing will be to ensure that there is an urgent review of the council’s decision to back the Edmonton incinerator, which will emit 700,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, and cost north London council taxpayers £1.2billion.

More broadly we encourage an urgent review of council budgets and functions to ensure that they are delivering for people and the planet.

ALICE BROWN
on behalf of Climate Emergency Camden

TANIA INOWLOCKI & HELEN SHARIATMADARI
on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Camden

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