Green light for October climate festival in Islington

A low emission zone in Islington. Photograph: Julia Gregory

Politicians have given the green light to a festival in Islington discussing ways to tackle the climate emergency.

The two-week festival will run from 18-29 October in the run-up to the global environmental climate change conference.

The council has not yet released extensive details of the event but it hopes the festival, called ‘Islington Together: Let’s talk about a greener future’, will encourage residents and businesses to play their part in reducing the borough’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

Councillors agreed the move at their full council meeting (23 September).

It comes as Islington was identified as one of the six London boroughs most at risk of the effects of climate change.

According to research by City Hall and Bloomberg Associates Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Brent, Tower Hamlets and Newham  are at particularly high risk of suffering the worst effects of climate change.

After high temperatures and extreme flooding in London this summer, the analysis has found that if such weather events continue, around 10 per cent of London’s entire rail network will be at “high risk” of flooding, while 200,000 homes and workplaces are already deemed at high or medium risk of surface water flooding.

Cllr Rowena Champion, the executive member for environment and transport, said: “We have one last chance to stop the global temperature increase.”

She said global leaders gathering at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) need to take action to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Cllr Champion said the borough has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 per cent since 2012 but pointed out there was more work to do and wants to hear from residents and businesses.

In June 2019, the council declared a climate emergency and adopted a net carbon strategy last year.

Making his maiden speech, Cllr Angelo Weekes (Lab, Mildmay) said “it is future generations who will see the real impact” of steps taken now to avert climate change.

“We can’t tackle this alone,” he explained.

Islington Council is responsible for 10 per cent of the borough’s emissions  and is also planning to continue working with residents and businesses to reduce the other 90 per cent.

It is also calling on the government to fully fund the council’s 2030 strategy. The council has spent £17 million on projects to cut emissions and £8 million in further electrifying the council’s vehicle fleet and the supporting infrastructure.

Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) also brought a motion calling for the council to draw up a resilience plan “to protect the council, Islington residents, workers and organisations from the disruption due to future extreme weather events”.

She described recent flooding in the borough and elsewhere in London and said many residents were vulnerable to floods and overheating. She wants the council to look at extreme heat and cold in homes and workplaces and the risk of flooding.

She warned that 80 per cent of Londoners experienced overheating in their homes in 2015 and ambulance call-outs increase by one per cent for every degree increase in temperature over 20°C.

“Overheated homes are a public health risk,” she said.