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Green campaigners celebrate after Newham Council declares climate emergency

PUBLISHED: 14:00 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:32 16 April 2019

Fossil Free Newham campaigners celebrate after Newham Council declares a climate emergency. Picture: JON KING

Fossil Free Newham campaigners celebrate after Newham Council declares a climate emergency. Picture: JON KING

Archant

Newham Council has joined 30 other UK local authorities by declaring a climate emergency.

Passing a motion at a public meeting at Old Town Hall in The Broadway, Stratford, on Monday the move commits the borough to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

The motion was drawn up by Fossil Free Newham, an environmental campaign group begun in 2017.

Its co-founder, Louis Martin, said: “This is a brilliant victory for Fossil Free Newham, who have been pushing the council to act on climate change for two years now.

“It shows that grassroots movements can have a great impact in local politics. We hope Newham's commitment to go carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon free by 2050 will send tremors to surrounding boroughs where Londoners are desperate for greater leadership on climate change.”

He added that it is essential the group continues to make sure the council follows through on promises to make air quality safer, loosen its reliance on fossil fuels, and invest in clean energy.

Part of the motion states: “All governments have a duty to limit the negative impacts of climate breakdown and local governments that recognise this should not wait for their national governments to change their policies.

“It is important for the residents of Newham and the United Kingdom that cities commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible”.

Installing air quality measuring devices in schools, putting free, renewable energy in social homes and removing single use plastic from council premises are among a range of possible steps Newham committed to.

It also commits to audit council services to make sure they are environmentally friendly.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “We must tackle the air pollution in the borough – we should all note that the evidence is compelling.

“Public Health England confirm that Newham has the largest number of deaths attributable to air quality – seven out of every 100 deaths is as a result of poor air quality. Under this administration this is going to change.”

She added Newhamwould set up an air quality task force with a council representative on a Surfers Against Sewage and Plastic Free Royal Docks steering group.

Newham councillor, Sasha Dasgupta, said: “We are at a crucial juncture in humanity with only 12 years to take action before irreversible damage is done.

“Locally we saw seven per cent of adult deaths attributed to poor air quality. Poor air quality has been at the heart of Labour politics in Newham since the 1900s. Some of our very first MPs campaigned for improved conditions and better health and safety in bad smelling factories. I'm proud to continue that tradition.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned last year of rapid global warming but said that limiting temperature increases to 1.5° is still possible if rapid action is taken to reduce polluting carbon emissions. These are released when fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are burned.

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