Local eco-campaigners are calling for more renewables like solar panels to tackle climate change Photo: © Friends of the Earth

Local eco-campaigners are calling for more renewables like solar panels to tackle climate change Photo: © Friends of the Earth

What could be worse than fumbling the ball, letting it slip between your fingers? England’s goalkeeper Robert Green wasn’t a popular figure earlier this month, but interestingly you don’t find the same anger directed towards those who would let the opportunity to tackle climate change slip through our fingers. And even the biggest fan now knows that the imminent and devastating effects of climate change will be infinitely worse than another missed chance by the England football team.

So, at Hackney and Tower Hamlets Friends of the Earth we’re urging Hackney Council to sign up to the Get Serious About C02 campaign, which would commit the council  to carbon emissions reductions of 40 per cent by 2020.

This is the kind of target that the science demands – the 40 per cent target is derived from a UK Committee on Climate Change recommendation. We are lobbying local councils because they have a huge say in local emissions – from planning, to power, to heating and transport – and they need to show much more ambition if we are to meet our national climate commitments and do our bit to avert catastrophic climate change.

Hackney Council’s climate change strategy does have lots of good stuff, but its carbon emissions reduction targets are too end-loaded: 3 per cent by 2013, 15.9 per cent by 2019, 49.2 per cent by 2035, 80.1 per cent by 2050.

 The strategy promises an ‘action programme’ by 2009/10 to meet those targets, but no such programme has been made available. Moreover, it is not clear how this timeline squares with Hackney Council’s commitment to reduce emissions by 10 per cent in 2010, as a signatory to the 10:10 campaign, nor London’s commitment to a 60 per cent carbon emissions reduction by 2025.

Happily though, if councils get serious about climate change there are huge benefits to be had. It will boost the local economy, create jobs and slash fuel bills, reduce health problems and improve public transport. A low-carbon local economy will see local benefits of reduced energy bills, greater resilience to fluctuating energy prices, and the avoidance of high-carbon infrastructure that will be a growing financial burden.

We believe that Hackney Council should produce a plan for making the cuts that works for the area and for local residents, and we have plenty of ideas of what could be included. We are suggesting six policies, whose effectiveness is backed up by research from Arup:

1. Free home insulation

2. Renewable energy in homes

3. Reducing traffic

4. Encouraging a shift to low-carbon vehicles

5. Encouraging renewable energy through planning policies

6. Setting up Energy Services Companies to invest in local low-carbon energy systems

We will be working with your local councillors and council officers to make this target a reality for Hackney, but we could use your support.

As an individual or the member of a local group or business, you can write to Mayor Jules Pipe to express your support. You can find a template letter on the  Friends of the Earth website. We are also always keen to welcome new members to our group – you can find details of our meetings on our website, or you can contact me, Kate Hand, email kate.hand@dunelm.org.uk.

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