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Quentin Given from Tottenham & Wood Green Friends of the Earth reports on this week's Enfield & Haringey Assembly Member Climate Hustings - preceded by an extract from the recording of this week's online meeting of Enfield Climate Action Forum in which EnCAF members discuss the hustings.

A Successful London Assembly Hustings

The four main candidates came to be quizzed at a climate hustings organised by Friends of the Earth in Wood Green on 8 April.

Sixty-five people packed the hall at the Green Rooms to question the Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates for the Enfield & Haringey constituency of the London Assembly, prior to the London election on 2nd May.

All four signed up to the Friends of the Earth pledge, to hold the new Mayor, whoever it is, to account on achieving net zero carbon emissions and World Health Organisation air quality standards.

Calum McGillivray (Conservative) said a Tory mayor would invest more in electric buses and tackling pollution hotspots, including on the underground.

He would work to protect the green belt, and criticised the government for allowing housing to be built on greenfield sites when brownfield would be better for the environment, and for not ensuring new housing is energy efficient. He called on government to provide more subsidies for heat pumps, and for farming, to help improve food security.

Dr Katie Knight (Green) said her party endorsed all of the Friends of the Earth ten action points for London. She called for more segregated cycle routes to provide a safe alternative to cars. A Green mayor would introduce free public transport for under-22s, repurpose the Silvertown tunnel for cycles and buses, and promote more low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), based on good consultation and research. As a doctor she saw the results of poor nutrition already, and saw food security as a priority.

Joanne McCartney (Labour), the sitting Assembly member, stressed that Sadiq Khan is committed to making climate and air quality a priority, with the ULEZ, Superloop buses, promoting local food growing and encouraging providers of the free school meals to use locally sourced ingredients. The protection of street trees could be a good topic for scrutiny by the London Assembly environment committee. Many areas of climate action are held back by lack of funding. Joanne was looking forward to a Labour mayor working with a Labour government which would enable much faster action.

Guy Russo (Liberal Democrat) stressed the new for better reliability of buses in outer London, and the need for more orbital routes connecting town centres. A LibDem mayor would do more to protect ancient woodland, eg the land at Whitewebbs Park under threat from development. He deplored the culture wars over cycling and LTNs which was slowing climate action, and called on the main parties to tone this down and work on shared priorities.

Calum McGillivray perhaps summed up the spirit of the meeting when he said “we all share aims of tackling climate change and improving nature, but we differ over the means to achieve it”.

The meeting was chaired by Francis Sealey of Enfield Climate Action Forum, and also supported by Haringey Climate Forum and Sustainable Haringey.

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