Time is running out to tackle the climate emergency.
That was the message of a demonstration on the Town Hall steps this morning by environmental activists Croydon Extinction Rebellion, who were protesting against the inaction of Croydon Council and its Climate Change Commission.
Dozens of pairs of children’s shoes were laid out across the Town Hall steps, signifying the young lives being damaged, put under threat or even lost because of the council’s failure to act on key promises around climate change.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the first meeting of the Croydon Climate Change Commission, which was established nine months after the Labour-run council did one of its usual pieces of grandstanding by “declaring” a climate and ecological emergency. The council leader at the time, Tony Newman (remember him?), promised, “Deeds not words.”
“Last year, a Citizen’s Assembly gave the council a clear mandate for those promised deeds, but very little discernible progress has been made, and finances which could have been used for a green recovery have been squandered on poor investments and questionable payoffs,” an XR Croydon spokesperson said.
To emphasise that time is running out, XR Croydon referred to a UN report which stated, “We have 12 years to limit a climate change catastrophe.” That was said in 2018.
XR Croydon said, “Even with the finance issues, the council could have begun to take actions that would have cost nothing, or even saved money.
“While understanding that it has been a tough year for all, XR Croydon believes that the council needs a timely reminder that this is an emergency and that the window of opportunity to act is shrinking with every month that goes by.”
Read more: Calls for Beddington incinerator to be shut down over CO2
Read more: Councillors ‘gagged’ from questioning incinerator operators
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Only when the waves from a rising sea are lapping the Town Hall steps will Croydon Council pay anything more than lip service to tackling climate change.
Croydon Labour have done next to nothing since 2014, and Croydon Tories will get rid of even the most meagre efforts to date if they win in 2022.
So……. how exactly can Croydon act to reduce not only it own environmental impact, but also, how could it reduce the Borough’s impact overall?.
Well, the incinerator seems a good start, if a big and diffcult one. We can’t get a very large magic wand and wish the incinerator away. Even if this were possible, what can be done with al that rubbish?. Is “Total Recycling” possoble, and what would that mean in terms of CO2 generated. ? Does recycling cause less C02 than burning the rubbish?
What about insulation of every council home and building ?. Sounds good–but with bankropt couincil, who is going to pay for all the work to survey each prperty, and pay for the works?
How about generaing power from the sun?.
A view from space, using Google earth view will show an huge expanse of roofs in the Purley Way/ Beddington Lane industrial zone. Maybe getting on for a square mile of roofs in all. Huge roofs which could be retrofitted with solar panels. New buildings which could have been designed from day 1 to take the panels.
But is it within Croydon Council’s power to forcce building owners to fit the panels and cabling ?
I doubt it. With new buildigs? Possibly, through the planning process.
But my guess is that without a clear government decision to insist on solar panels for really significant generation across the whole of “UK plc” (as opposed to tokenism and “greenwash”) the Council are not empowered to do anything much on their own.
What about tree planting?
Street trees do a lot for our local street environments by taking out a huge amount of dust and grit from the air, and give moisture to cool down and ameliorate hot summer temperatures, and also add oxygen and take out CO2. The Council was top borough in London recently in terms of obtaining funding from the Mayor for 400 or so new street trees, so “hats off to the Tree team” for achieving this. But, a quick look at my local streets shows around 60 empty tree pits, where the brick edgings in the pavements show the site of a former tree, removed for one reason (death) or another (damage by vehicles) .
The conversion of front gardens to block paved or concreted / tramacked parking is not only “greying” the formerly “green” land surface, and causing flash flooding, but the creation of continuous expanses of “vehicle crossovers” over the footways of residential streets is also tarmacking over former tree locations, and wiping out the scope for new planting. Of course, the major need is for more funding for street tree planting.
It would be great if the council insisted on a new street tree within half a mile of any new car crossover, funded by the crossover fee. The fe ewould have to go up.
I wonder if the council is allowed to do that –as a local planning policy.
Preserving real grass playing fields is another thing– grass is an unacknowledged climate “good guy” (as well as being good for fitness and mental wellbeing). Playing fields are still being built on. Every blade of grass helps. That is about planning.
There are a few topics for discussion and decision.
Trouble is, talk is cheap, “action “costs”.
But inaction costs much, much more