Unsuccessful attempts to get Islington Labour to express support for the all-party agreed target to reduce Islington's CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020

I have tried to get Hillrise Labour candidate David Poyser and Islington Labour exec member Andy Hull to express support for the excellent target to reduce the Borough’s CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020.  

While the Labour administration has done a lot of good things on the way to hitting this target (many by addressing fuel poverty issues) they are not publicly addressing and supporting this target (which may or may not have been quietly dropped) in a systematic, comprehensive, and measurable manner.  

Publicity does not cost a lot of money.   I think that this must be because the 40% reduction target was lead by the Lib Dems when they controlled the  Council, and maybe the Labour party do not see it as either appealing to the voters or achievable, or necessary for their fairness agenda.   As a result they are allowing Islington residents and businesses to ignore the climate change threat and not do anything to change their lifestyles/reduce their emissions.   

As much of humanity is not going to survive a global  temperature rise of several degrees I find this unbelievably sad and short-sighted.

Below are the comments from David Poyser (Hillrise candidate) and the Labour website and various Labour MEPs on carbon, cycling, air quality and EU energy policy:

Thanks for your email.

I am afraid I have told you all I can as a (mere!) candidate.

I think that, as well as changes to our lives (I am an active cyclist and have been to ICAG meetings etc.), the major thrust on this has to international and I am a very keen supporter of the EU taking a lead on this. As a result, I was very pleased to be asked to do communications for Labour MEPs for two years (travelling to Brussels and Strasbourg by train – unlike some!). They are working day and night to help make the EU take a lead in the world on the environment.

Below is further information about the ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emissions Zone) and the efforts Islington is making to improve air quality despite the massive cuts in its budget as a result of the LibDem-Tory Coalition.

Thanks for giving my views to the Archway Eco-Group.

Additional notes David sent me:

Islington Labour takes air quality very seriously and has done much to tackle the problem – including becoming the first local authority in the country to introduce a 20mph zone on all council managed roads.

However, the plans laid out for the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone by the Mayor of London are still unclear and presently include the proposal that would ban all petrol cars made before 2008 and all diesel cars before 2014. If introduced this could lead to as many as 20,000 Islington residents and businesses being forced to give up their vehicles.

The proposals would also effectively ban all disabled people that did not own a car which met the criteria from travelling through the borough.

The ULEZ is still 6 years away from implementation and there is still plenty of time for these issues to be resolved.

Positive actions on Air Quality/Pollution by Islington Council

–          In 2013, Islington became the first borough in the country to introduce a 20mph limit on all roads.
–          In January 2014 we joined with Camden to call on the Mayor to do more to tackle air pollution, including; more greener buses, more support for low emission taxis, a comprehensive options appraisal of the ULEZ, modernising junctions to support active travel and continued funding to be provided for air quality initiatives.
–          Islington has the largest local authority fleet of hybrid light commercial vehicles in the UK (66 hybrid vans in total).
–          School travel plans have been updated to include air quality awareness raising measures and actions to reduce emissions and exposure. Islington hasalso embraced the Cleaner Air 4 Schools project which teaches pupils, teachers and parents the common sources of pollution and what they can do to improve air quality – including cutting unnecessary car journeys.

Islington has a permanent fleet of 252 vehicles – of which, 30% are low emission (electric, hybrids, CNG gas or Euro V diesel). It is currently undergoing a massive replacement programme which will see the majority of the fleet replaced over the next couple of years. The Council will only buy vehicles that are low emission types.

The reason that the proportion of vehicles that are low emission is not higher is because the Council bought out the Enterprise vehicles at the end of that PFI contract which are all old vehicles. These are on the replacement programme.

From: Susan Lees
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2014 11:36 PM
To: David Poyser; Hull, Andy
Subject: Islington’s target to reduce CO2 emissions in the Borough by 40% by 2020

Dear David,

Thank you for sending me the material from the Islington Labour on the website following our discussion on my doorstep when you were canvassing in Hillrise the other day.

While the manifesto says that Labour takes the challenge of climate change seriously, it does NOT say that Labour is in full support of the (all-party agreed) Islington  target to reduce the Borough’s CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020.   While I fully support Labour’s efforts to deal with fuel poverty, and the various things you have done, as listed in the manifesto, I remain deeply disappointed that it has not been possible (yet?) to get a statement in writing from Andy Hull or yourself that this excellent target, which had a route map which included many of the good things which have been done, as well as other ideas, has the local party’s enthusiastic support.  

What a great message this would send local residents, that the Council is fully aware of the disastrous consequences of a several-degree rise in global temperature (which the scientific data shows as being more and more on the cards) to Islington residents, and everyone else on the planet, and is pursuing the 40:20 target vigorously.  

On-going  publicity, which would not be expensive, could encourage owner-occupiers, the private rented sector,  and businesses to do more to change their life-styles/energy useage practices.  Achievements could be reported in the local press and the Council’s newspaper.  

I have to say that when the Lib-Dems had control, and the wonderful Bob Gilbert as a staff member (cannot remember his exact title) a better job was being made with this.

Conversely, the total lack of enthusiasm for the 40% target sends a strong message to Islington’s residents that there is no need to bother to take any action to reduce fossil fuel use in order to try and prevent climate change, and encourages everyone to keep their heads in the sand on this very difficult issue.

Looking at the rest of your manifesto, I feel sure that my Archway Eco colleagues would say that there is much more to be done on air quality, and  that the Roamer parking scheme was a move in the wrong direction.   Looking at the main two sheets of the Islington Labour manifesto, I could not find the word “environment” anywhere!   Have I missed it, or did the environment not justify a statement or two in the manifesto?

David Poyser sent these extracts from Labour’s manifesto on our web-site:

“Islington Labour takes the challenge of climate change and other forms of pollution seriously because they have the biggest impact on the most vulnerable. Taking action to tackle carbon emissions also has enormous benefits for residents struggling to cope with the rising cost of living, by cutting energy bills. Our ambitious plans for new heat and power centres will cut emissions while reducing energy bills for residents. Over the last four years, we have cut energy bills and reduced emissions in over 10,000 homes by replacing old boilers and insulating homes. We will expand our programme of free home insulation over the next four years.  Air quality has been improving in Islington but is still not good enough, particularly along our main roads. Poor air quality is a major health risk as it can cause childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. We will campaign to force the Mayor of London to take action to improve air quality in the borough, for example by tightening up emissions standards for taxis, HGVs and buses

We are proud of our record as the first borough in the country to introduce a 20 mile per hour speed limit on all our roads. This makes our roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and brings both health and environmental benefits. We will work with local police to ensure that this new limit is observed throughout the borough.   Encouraging more people to walk and cycle will help improve residents’ health, cut emissions and improve air quality. We have introduced new planning rules to make sure that new developments are car-free (except for blue badge holders and car clubs) and we are fitting more bike stands and stores to encourage residents to cycle.  

Islington Labour is committed to making cycling and walking in the borough safer so that residents have the confidence to leave their cars behind.   By summer 2014, all of the council’sown HGV drivers will have attended safe urban driving training and we will require all major new council contractors and major developers operating in the borough to do the same. The council plans to achieve silver accreditation under the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme(which sets out safety requirements beyond the legal minimum for the council’s own vehicles)by summer 2014, followed by action to achieve gold status new council contractors and major developers operating in the borough to do the same. The council plans to achieve silver accreditation under the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (which sets out safety requirements beyond the legal minimum for the council’s own vehicles) by summer 2014, followed by action to achieve gold status.

Main roads and large roundabouts in Islington are controlled by Transport for London, and these are where most accidents occur and also where air quality is particularly bad. We will lobby Transport for London to introduce 20 mile per hour speed limits on their roads in Islington and improve cycle safety on the roads they manage.  

We will work with Transport for London to review the operation of all major roundabouts in Islington to make sure they are working as best they can for Islington’s residents,including cyclists and pedestrians. Our long term aspiration is to remove the major gyratories in the borough.”

Here’s one of many examples where Islington’s Labour council has discussed these issues publicly


David’s final remarks: 

I think we all agree that global warming is a massive world-scale problem requiring a world scale solution. The EU is taking a lead, and the Labour MEPs are taking a lead in the European Parliament. As we said, as well, it is also a matter of individual lifestyle – personally, I used to take monthly trains to Strasbourg rather than take the quicker flight, for four years etc.