Councillors ‘call time on scandalous obfuscation’ with declaration of climate emergency

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Council.

Islington councillors have unanimously declared an environment and climate emergency, with a further pledge to work towards getting the Town Hall to net zero in its carbon emissions by 2030.

Whoops and cheers echoed throughout the chamber as the emergency was declared, with members of Fossil Free Islington who brought a petition for the declaration last year calling for the reduction of carbon emissions to be at the centre of every policy going forward.

Borough leader Cllr Richard Watts (Lab, Tollington) has admitted that the council currently does not have the budget or powers to achieve the 2030 target as things stand, but committed to campaigning to secure them.

Cllr Claudia Webbe (Lab, Bunhill), executive member for environment and transport, who proposed the motion, said: “We face an environment, ecological and climate emergency. Let us reflect on that word ’emergency’. I didn’t say ‘issue’, I didn’t say ‘problem’, I didn’t say ‘pickle’.

“For too long the world response to climate change and environment degradation has been piecemeal, pedestrian, and platitude-heavy. Tonight we in Islington call time on scandalous obfuscation and declare that enough is enough.

“What we need is action, which is why I’m proud that this council is leading from the front, making bold commitments backed up by steadfast resolve to tackle the environment and climate emergency by achieving a net zero carbon Islington by 2030.”

Cllr Watts added: “This declaration is enormously significant, and I would like to thank the councillors, campaigners and community groups who brought us here today.”

Islington will now be making representations to national government for the resources and legal powers in order that the Town Hall can make their targets, and will host an annual ‘Tackling the Environment and Climate Emergency’ meeting at its Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee.

A report on what strategic steps the council has taken to tackle the emergency is expected on 27 February 2020.

Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) said: “I am so happy to support this climate emergency motion. This is the result of a truly grassroots, crossparty and people-led campaign.

“People, not politicians, have set the agenda, and all of you have taken us on this journey.

“This is not business as usual, but a mammoth challenge, and one that we must rise to. If we do, we can make people’s lives better, with warmer homes, cleaner air, and new jobs from a green new deal.”