Eco 2021: We must keep pushing for more to be done before it’s too late
'We need stronger planning and building rules and better tax incentives'
12 January, 2021 — By Cllr Sian Berry
As part of Eco 2021 edition to start the year, we asked the four political parties represented at the Town Hall to tell us what they think is the path forward on climate change.
I’m proud of the climate action won so far by local campaigners in Camden. We have set new targets, held one of the first Citizen’s Assemblies, and changed the council’s constitution so that all the decisions we make consider their ecological impact.
But action speaks louder than words, and we must keep pushing for more to be done before it’s too late. My pitch today is for action on two neglected ideas: increasing local green energy and reducing resource use and ‘stuff turnover’.
On the ground, citizens are already putting their faith behind green energy through Power Up North London’s community-owned solar panels, first on St Anne’s Church in Highgate, and now on four major sites across the area. But far too many council buildings and homes are missing out on their potential.
Let’s make it easier in every way, with more funding, easier planning processes, and campaigning that builds up public support for every suitable local roof to go solar.
The ‘embodied’ carbon in the things we buy, use and throw away has had little attention.
But campaigners are starting to push for policies that cut down on this huge contributor to our footprint.
I’m backing the Retrofirst campaign by architects to make demolition a true last resort.
We need stronger planning and building rules and better tax incentives so more projects refit existing structures to create the homes and business spaces we need, and don’t waste tons of carbon by knocking things to the ground.
On a smaller scale, Camden also needs a stronger strategy for the repair and re-use of electrical goods, clothes, furniture and other everyday items.
With repair centres and skills training workshops filling up empty units, our high streets could be revived and at the same time as help struggling families to save on expensive new purchases. I’ve put these ideas to the council as part of recovery planning, and I know that cabinet members were listening.
We need a fresh start and new thinking to build a more resilient future, and I know that people are crying out for support for more green, community-focused social enterprises.
Green energy and repair services are ideal for this, and I hope we’ll see more action happening soon to support these ideas.