Government must take action to ‘put its money where its mouth is’ to protect people from flooding and unbearable heat caused by Climate Change

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz today called for urgent action, and more money from government to protect residents from flooding and extreme heat.

The Mayor’s comments follow a new report from City Hall and Bloomberg Associates which showed that Newham residents in East London are most at risk from flooding and extreme heat caused by climate change. The Climate Vulnerability Mapping report, published today, rates the risk of both flooding and overheating jeopardising lives and livelihoods in Newham as “very high”, the highest on the rating scale.

Mayor Fiaz, said: “Last July our Newham hospital and Pudding Lane DLR station flooded as a direct result of Climate change. This report confirms what Newham residents already know, that Climate change is real and happening in their streets.”

“We get a lot of words from the government, but the time for talk has passed and the time for action is now.

“The government must put its money where its mouth is to protect the homes and lives of the people of Newham and I demand investment now in protecting the people of Newham.”

“My message to the government is simple, we already have a plan but we need them to give us the finances we urgently need. We have in place a raft of steps to improve health, tackle the climate crisis and help kick-start economic recovery. This important report reinforces the urgent need for us to do this, and we must have the ability to take action now.”

Mayor Fiaz concluded: “The Covid pandemic hit people in our borough harder than most. I am determined that Newham will not be forgotten when responding to Climate Change. That is why the action we are taking already to combat climate change and improve the air that we breathe is so important, and why our economic plan to improve the lives of our people has sustainability at the core.”

Newham Council has declared a Climate Emergency and published a Climate Emergency Action Plan in July 2020 that sets how we will 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.

Over the past 12 months key climate action by the council has included:

  • Embarking on the most significant council home retrofit programme in a generation, including fitting cleaner, cheaper heating systems.
  • Accelerating the ‘Passivhaus’ standards in the council’s housebuilding programme so that all homes built are sustainable and green. 
  • Positioning 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
  • In 2019, Newham implemented major improvement works in Stratford Town Centre to facilitate an attractive, accessible and people-friendly environment, in line with the Mayor of London’s Healthy Streets Approach. The works included new cycle lanes, pedestrian pavement widening, green public spaces including sustainable urban drainage, new road crossings and removal of the one-way traffic flow resulting in an average 24% reduction in NO2 pollution, a 53% reduction in particulate matter (PM10), and a 17% reduction in particulate matter (PM2.5). 
  • Rolling out five Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 11 Healthy School Streets which have so far resulted in an average 30% reduction in NO2 pollution during school hours, a 38% reduction in PM10 and a 24% reduction in PM2.5
  • Switching 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. 
  • Starting to decarbonise all council buildings following a successful bid for a £2.7m grant through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
  • Significantly reducing 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.
  • Launching our 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.
  • Involving young people in our response to the climate emergency, including organising a Youth Summit on the topic and expanding our network of Air Quality Health Champions to advocate our clean air agenda across the borough.

Published: 23 Sep 2021