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Topic: Enfield Council's climate action plan: 'The wrong target, too slow and too secretive'

Enfield Council's climate action plan: 'The wrong target, too slow and too secretive'
20 May 2020 15:40 #5478

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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[Original article]

Enfield Council's draft climate action plan is much too limited in scope, is taking far too long to be developed and put into action, is neglecting to engage citizens properly, and fails to identify opportunities for the borough's businesses. These are the conclusions of an analysis presented at the April meeting of the Enfield Climate Action Forum (EnCAF).

encaf logoEdited highlights of the EnCAF meeting, held online on 29th April, are now available on the GlobalNet21 YouTube channel (and above). As well as the analysis of the council's plans, presented by David Flint of Enfield Green Party, the meeting discussed waste management during the Coronavirus crisis, and how to hold public bodies accountable - with particular reference to the plans to build a huge new waste incinerator in Edmonton.

A policy aimed at the "wrong target"

David Flint's analysis of the council's climate action plan focussed its criticism on four important aspects:

  • Scope: The emissions that the plan aims to bring down to zero by 2030 account for only two per cent of total emissions in the borough, those that the council controls itself. All emissions in Enfield need to be reduced to zero, and the council should be using its regulatory powers and development powers to help make this happen.
  • Speed: "We call it a climate emergency for a reason, because it is very urgent that we get this done." The council has taken nine months just to produce a document, and "most of what's in the document that is specific could have been agreed within the first four weeks because almost everything was well known to anyone who'd been involved with climate change". Other councils, such as Lambeth and Wandsworth have produced detailed plans and are executing them.
  • Strategic positioning: "The council treats climate change as a problem and only as a problem, but it's also an opportunity, because what we're going to see over the next few years is a switch, in all sorts of respects, from a high carbon economy to a low-carbon economy and there is the possibility for councils that move now, for businesses that move now, to be able to get ahead of the game".
  • Public engagement: Solving the climate crisis needs the involvement of every councillor, every business, every citizen of the borough. The council should be giving the lead and involving everyone, but instead a small task force has been used, meeting in secret, not even accessible to other councillors, only issuing brief notes rather than proper minutes. "It's not just that it's wrong in democratic principle, it's also counterproductive. That is not the way that the council is going to get everyone involved, everyone understanding what has to be done."

On a more positive note, David Flint welcomed the proposal to make a commitment to reducing carbon emissions a mandatory part of all decision making by the council, as well as the suggestion of experimenting with a "carbon price".

Waste management

In the second edited extract, Cllr Vicki Pite briefed the meeting on discussions with council officers about problems with waste management during the Coronavirus lockdown. She herself was one of the people whose bins hadn't always been collected.

Lack of accountability

The third presentation included in the video was about lack of accountability of the North London Waste Authority. Georgia Elliot-Smith described coming up against a "wall of denial and rebuttals" when campaigning against the planned new incinerator - see this forum post to read the main points that she raised.

The importance of individual actions

Finally, Nia Stevens from the Enfield Climate Community Group spoke about the important role that individual actions can play in encouraging councils to take action against climate change.

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Enfield Council's climate action plan: 'The wrong target, too slow and too secretive'
14 Aug 2020 10:16 #5479

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Once upon a time air pollution was the leading environmental matter. Subsequently climate change became a more pressing concern but a USA article, based on the burgeoning field of global research into air quality, makes the seemingly astonishing claim that by focusing on the health benefits of air quality the issue of climate change can be resolved.
Ever more problems are being identified as being associated with adverse air: premature deaths, illness and lost productivity. Bigger data pools, China being particularly mentioned, are now revealing that what has already been a rapid growth in known problems was not awful enough.

“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: air pollution can harm health across the entire lifespan. It causes disease, disability and death, and impairs everyone’s quality of life. It damages lungs, hearts, brains, skin and other organs; it increases the risk of disease and disability, affecting virtually all systems in the human body.”

Focusing on USA metrics it concludes the financial benefits of good air alone are enough to pay for the transition to clean energy. Fossil fuels disappear, with huge benefit to climate gases in the atmosphere. The near term benefits are from air quality; longer term the climate benefits.
The author tackles the free-rider argument, ie why bother since China and India are such huge polluters. The modelling suggests that the health benefits would still be of sufficient scale to financially cover the costs of transition to clean energy, whatever any other country decided not to do. What is good enough for the USA is claimed to be good enough with knobs on for the vastly dirtier air of China and India. (A suggestion of up to 7m associated deaths in 2015 alone between these two countries puts Covid 19 in some relative perspective.)
I imagine it’s unlikely our own position will differ all that much to that of the USA. One in every twenty deaths in our own borough is said to be related to adverse air quality, so that means if not you then almost certainly someone you know, or knew. It’s a key driver behind the pressure to get active through less-vehicle centric streets. It now looks like it can and should be a whole lot more.

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