CROYDON COMMENTARY: The Climate Crisis Commission met for the first time this morning. PETER UNDERWOOD, one of the commission members, explains what its work will involve
In the face of the growing threat of climate change, this is our chance to start fighting back.
From the uncontrollable wildfires in Australia, to Victoria Falls running dry in Africa, to the flooding across England, it is clear that the climate is changing and we need to act now to prevent the climate emergency becoming a climate catastrophe.
Last year I worked with Croydon’s Extinction Rebellion group to call on the council to declare a climate emergency. This built on the momentum created by the school climate strikers and countless other environmental activists and we were glad when the council did go ahead and make the commitment for Croydon to be carbon neutral by 2030 – that means that the borough of Croydon would no longer be contributing to climate change.
But words are not enough, we need action.
So the council has set up the Croydon Climate Crisis Commission. Although the commission has been started by the council, the aim is for it to be fully independent, with the aims of:
- Developing an action plan for Croydon to go carbon neutral by 2030
- Bringing together residents and businesses from across the Croydon community to get decarbonisation projects off the ground
- Bringing experts from business, science and politics together to design and fund new carbon-neutral projects
- Keeping Croydon on track to hit its 2030 carbon neutral target.
The commission will continue the work of the Croydon Citizens’ Assembly on Climate, a representative group of members of the community who were randomly selected to participate in the process. The Assembly members have developed a list of recommendations for how Croydon can become carbon neutral, which they will pass to the independent commission to take forward over coming months.
Two Citizen’s Assembly members will be nominated by that group to join the commission and represent the wider Croydon community. They will be joined by representatives from a range of other community organisations, including health services, Croydon College, the council and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, the voluntary sector and local trade unions.
The commission will develop and evolve over time and in this opening stage I have been selected to join the commission as one of the two representatives of local green and environmental activist groups.
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The commissioners will be joined by technical experts from the London School of Economics (Grantham Institute) and Retrofit Works. And everyone in Croydon will have the opportunity to get involved in the commission’s work by joining one of the working groups to be set up and participating in its outreach activities.
The chair of the commission is Miatta Fahnbulleh, the chief executive of the New Economics Foundation. The New Economics Foundation has a long track record in this area and worked with Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth, among others, to produce the original Green New Deal more than 10 years ago.
“The urgent need to reduce our environmental impact is now well understood across society,” Fahnbulleh said today.
“But politics has lagged behind and we have not seen the transformative solutions required.
“The transition to new low-carbon industries and ways of living must happen quickly, but must also be used as an opportunity to improve the well-being of workers, minorities and the poorest in our society.
“Croydon wants to lead the country and demonstrate how a fast and fair transition can take place. The commission, working in collaboration with the Croydon community, will drive action forward.”
As many of you will know, I have been calling for action on climate change for a long time and so I will be giving this commission my full support. We need to make the most of this opportunity as we may not get a second chance.
The Climate Crisis Commission gives us an opportunity to promote changes at individual, business, and council levels in Croydon. If we work together we can make a difference. We can make Croydon a shining example to the rest of the country of how we can move to a new way of living in a fair and sustainable way.
- Peter Underwood is the Green Party candidate in Croydon and Sutton in the London Assembly elections in May
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