A raft of significant actions already in place to improve health, tackle the climate crisis and help kick-start economic recovery are highlighted in the latest Climate Emergency Report, due to go before Newham Council this month (June).
Action has been taken right across the council from promoting healthy school streets, revolutionising design to decarbonise buildings and retrofit housing that will create new green jobs – helping tackle the Climate Emergency, the wellbeing of residents and the economic recovery of the borough.
Newham declared a Climate Emergency in April 2019 and, following a year and a half of strategic planning and work, published a Climate Emergency Action plan in July 2020 to set out a path as the council strives to become carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2050.
In line with the council’s commitment to publish an annual report on this work, the second and latest annual Climate Emergency Report details the progress made in 2020-21 to tackle the emergency and secure a healthier future for residents and the planet.
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz said: “The climate emergency is the greatest existential threat to humanity and has been linked to the rise of new diseases such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus being transmitted between wild animals and humans.
“We have now begun to feel the devastating impacts scientists have been warning of for decades and as we continue to deal with the Covid-19 crisis we appreciate more than ever the need to guarantee a healthy, safe and sustainable future for our residents.
“This work runs right across the council including increasing air quality monitoring, introducing an emissions based parking scheme, decarbonising all our council buildings switching all our street lights to 100 per cent renewable electricity, planting more trees, and transitioning our vehicle fleet to fully electric.
“This report shows that despite the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic the council has made huge steps forward this year.”
Over the past 12 months the council has:
- Rolled out five Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 11 Healthy School Streets along with other measures. The South Leytonstone and Forest Gate North Low Traffic Neighbourhood is the first cross-borough initiative in the Capital in collaboration with the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The measures are reducing emissions in Newham and protecting the health of our residents.
- Launched with partners 50 Steps to a Healthier Newham strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of all residents in Newham. This strategy aims to improve air quality, tackle fuel poverty, encourage the use of green spaces to support the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of local residents, and promote healthier lifestyles.
- Significantly reduced investment in funds in the council’s Pensions Fund contributing negatively to climate change with another £200m of assets moved to more socially responsible funds.
- Started to decarbonise all council buildings following the successful bid for a £2.7m grant through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
- Switched to 100 per cent renewable electricity for all council operated buildings, as well as all street lighting in the borough and communal lighting across all council owned housing estates.
- Positioned Newham as one of London’s leading borough’s with the most extensive air quality monitoring networks to track progress on air quality improvements, alongside being part of the Idling Action London campaign aimed at stopping motorists from needlessly causing air pollution.
- Accelerated the ‘Passivhaus’ standards in the council’s housebuilding programme so that all homes built are sustainable and green.
- Embarked on the most significant council home retrofit programme in a generation, including cleaner, cheaper heating systems for all.
- Involved young people in our response to the climate emergency, including organising a Youth Summit on the topic.
- Expanded our network of Air Quality Health Champions to advocate our clean air agenda across the borough.
Mayor Fiaz added: “The pandemic has brought inequality into sharp focus here in Newham, particularly for those on low incomes and already struggling with poor health. That’s why the Towards a Better Newham strategy and action plan, to tackle these inequalities puts sustainability at the core of our recovery strategy.
“The COP26 conference will take place later this year, which will bring an accelerated call for greater international commitment and action and we’ll be calling for greater resources from national government to maximise our efforts in Newham.
“Drastic action to address our Climate Emergency will remain central to the council’s approach in all that we do as we move towards our climate targets.”