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Shakira Dyer reports on meeting with Catherine West MP and explores how tackling climate change needn’t cost the earth
Editorial support from Angela Mascolo
Recently, I joined Catherine West (MP for Wood Green and Hornsey) in an online meeting as an Exposure representative to discuss how we can build an economy which protects our climate.
The issue of climate change is more pertinent than ever during the coronavirus crisis. Along with previous cuts to the Haringey Council budget, the outbreak of the pandemic has meant that focusing on climate change can seem out of reach for many. However, the meeting with Catherine West highlighted that combating climate change on a local level is not as unattainable as we may think.
Catherine West is also the creator of Haringey Labour Climate Action, and has spoken many times on climate change issues since at least 2015.
Muswell Hill Friends of the Earth’s co-ordinator Tim Root (previously interviewed by Exposure and who also joined the meeting) called for Catherine West to lobby Prime Minster Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for an “economy that provides support to protect our climate, safeguards life, and provides green jobs.”
During the meeting, Catherine West argued that a £3 billion investment in its Green Investment Programme “is not enough” and suggested that the UK parliament should invest in a green recovery and decarbonisation in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.
Catherine West also promised to develop Haringey’s Zero Carbon commitments in March 2020 to insulate homes, develop and build zero-emission vehicles, plant trees and decarbonise our towns and cities.
In addition, she pointed out the deadly consequences of damp insulation, low-quality heating solutions and pollution. These issues have resulted in 4,000 respiratory illness related deaths per year from home appliances that could have been fixed.
Catherine West said that individuals can tackle this by getting their landlords to apply for the Haringey Green Homes Grants. These grants will enable landlords or homeowners up to £5,000 to apply for energy efficient improvements including wall or loft insulation, or more efficient boilers.
Transportation has a great impact on the environment and remains the highest contributor to greenhouse gases (28.2% in 2018).
With this data in mind, Catherine West said she would “make tackling climate change affordable to everyone in the different areas of Wood Green and Hornsey.” She would support the plans to lower traffic speed limits, better cycle parking and cycle hire as part of citizen group Sustainable Haringey’s requests for a Greener Borough. Where electric cars aren’t affordable, changing from diesel to petrol, or switching from driving to cycling, can help reduce emissions.
Youth organisations could create new climate-friendly jobs
Cycling could also be encouraged by improving facilities: for example, by providing more cycle lanes and reviewing the £27 billion investment for roads. However, Catherine West suggested that companies need to be careful of “digging up the surface of the road and parking their vehicles in the bicycle lanes.” Friends of the Earth has suggested that the government should invest £2 billion a year for safe cycling and walking and £8 billion a year for safe transport.
Catherine West suggested that youth organisations, working alongside young people, could create new climate-friendly jobs, such as working to develop and maintain local parks. She admitted: “It’s an entry level job, but one that will lead to further jobs later on.”
This could also help boost the economy, as well as mental health by enabling people to spend more time outside when feasible.
I found this Zoom meeting extremely informative, and it was amazing how much Catherine West stood up for both local people and the environment. Businesses and local people should be helped to make more climate-friendly changes, so that they can avoid a climate change disaster later on.
You can visit the Haringey Climate Forum to put forward ideas on how to tackle climate change in Haringey.
For more information, visit Tottenham and Wood Green Friends of the Earth, an active environmental campaign group that takes action on fossil fuel use and renewable energy.
Our thanks to Thrive LDN’s Right To Thrive grant scheme for making this project possible.