‘Climate emergency’ declared

A climate demonstration outside Waltham Forest Town Hall
A climate demonstration outside Waltham Forest Town Hall was attended by more than 300 people

Protests prompt council to take action, reports James Cracknell

Local activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) have persuaded Waltham Forest Council to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and take action to slash emissions.

More than 300 people attended a protest outside Waltham Forest Town Hall two days before the council was due to debate whether or not to agree to the group’s demands – a flower bed of lavender was even planted by the activists in the shape of the campaign’s logo.

Earlier in April they had also protested outside the Walthamstow branch of Barclays, demanding the bank cancel its investments in fossil fuels, including fracking. A spokesperson for XR Walthamstow said: “Instead of digging more coal mines, drilling more oil fields and building more pipelines, we need to radically transform our energy infrastructure and build a green economy that benefits the many.”

Prior to the XR protests in central London that attracted worldwide attention, schoolchildren had been going on strike to call for action to tackle climate change, including in Waltham Forest. Around 200 children also turned up at last month’s town hall protest, with the demands made by XR Walthamstow being handed to Clyde Loakes, the council’s cabinet member for the environment, by four-year-old Aniela.

The demands include declaring a climate emergency, reviewing the council’s carbon reduction plans, setting up a citizens’ assembly, creating a public action plan to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2025, and protecting the borough’s biodiversity.

A motion to declare a climate emergency, proposed by Cllr Loakes, was agreed at a council meeting last week. It states: “We now face a ‘climate emergency’ and urgent action is required to restrict global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C. This council calls on the UK government to provide the necessary powers and resources to make local action on climate change easier.”

In the agreed motion the council listed a series of environmental achievements, including reducing carbon emissions by 32% over a ten-year period, with the borough claiming “the second lowest per capita carbon emissions in London”; becoming the first UK local authority to pledge to divest from fossil fuels, in 2016; and launching an “ambitious tree planting programme”.

Read the full climate emergency declaration here: www.bit.ly/WFClimateEmergency