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enfield climate action plan 2020 coverAt its meeting on 15 July Enfield's cabinet adopted the Enfield Climate Action Plan 2020 (CAP 2020). The plan sets out measures designed to meet the pledge made by Enfield's cabinet members in July 2018, when they undertook to:

  • Make Enfield Council a carbon neutral organisation by 2030
  • Divest the Council from investments in fossil fuel companies
  • Only use environmentally friendly products where we are able to do so
  • Make our supply chain carbon neutral through ethical procurement
  • Work with local communities and positively promote changing behaviours in Enfield to limit activities scientifically linked to climate change

A draft version was published in March, with an invitation for organisations and individuals to comment. The version approved last week is similar in outline but has taken on board many comments. In particular, it lists the steps along the road to carbon neutrality in more detail and it now includes a target date for making the entire borough carbon-neutral: 2040.

This is less easily achieved than the 2030 deadline for the council's activities. For a start, non-council activities account for the the vast majority - 89 per cent - of carbon emitted in the borough. Two thirds of these emissions come either from heating or from transport - building insulation will need to be radically improved and use of gas for heating and cooking phased out. As deputy council leader Ian Barnes writes in the introduction, this will mean bold and sometimes unpopular action. Businesses and individuals will need to play their part, and much will also depend on national government, both in terms of introducing tougher regulation and providing the council with adequate funding.

Measures which the plan envisages in order to achieve the 2040 target include:

  • greatly increased "green infrastructure" - planting trees, sustainable drainage schemes, green roofs and more. Plans include the Enfield Chase Woodland project, which would involve planting 100,000 trees.
  • much higher rates of recycling with nothing going to landfill. Controversially, the plan envisages 25 per cent of waste being incinerated - many environmentalists object strongly because of incineration emits large quantities of greenhouse gases, when near elimination of greenhouse gas emissions is fundamental to success in countering climate change.
  • deep retrofit of all council buildings and more than half of all housing - this will involve radically improved insulation and installation of solar panels
  • near complete phase-out of gas, with the requirements for heating (much diminished by better insulation) met by installing heat pumps at a rate of 6000 a year and greater use of the council's heat distribution network (Energetik)
  • the complete disappearance of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and buses. As well as wider use of electric vehicles, de-carbonisation of transport will need to involve a move away from driving towards more use of active travel modes - walking, bicycles, e-bikes, public transport.

A new table sets out the steps along the journey to carbon neutrality, starting this year with council offices going 100 per cent renewable electricity and a requirement that all council decision-making takes account of climate change and carbon emissions. 2021 will see 60,000 new trees, the publication of a low-carbon retrofit plan and 30 per cent of the population within 400m of the cycle network. 2022's targets include the start of retrofitting. And so on.

Extremely challenging, but absolutely essential if we are to avoid total catastrophe for human life on earth. It will need as many people as possible to take their own small steps and also to make it clear to the government that it is time to take serious action. Action not just to save the climate, but also to get us out of the economic catastrophe, unemployment and impoverishment that is about to befall this country as a result of Covid-19. A Build Back Better/Green New Deal will achieve both aims at the same time and provide better jobs, a more human-friendly environment and decent living standards for all. And a new document - A Blueprint for Accelerating
Climate Action and a Green Recovery at the Local Level - has just been published by a group of local government, environmental and research organisations, setting out ways in which central government could assist local authorities in achieving the necessary change.


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