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Islington activists tell Town Hall: ‘Act faster on climate change pledges’

Islington Council chiefs told they must not delay measures to hit green target by 2030

04 October, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Sebastian Sandys of Extinction Rebellion speaking at the Town Hall

ECO-ACTIVISTS piled fresh pressure on the Town Hall to live up to its celebrated Climate Emergency pledges with warnings that the council is “nowhere near” its targets.

Islington’s headline vow to tackle climate change was under scrutiny at a full council meeting as environment activists packed the council chamber.

The debate was sparked by a petition set up by the Fossil Free Islington (FFI) group, which previously convinced the council to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels.

Speaking at the meeting on Thursday, FFI spokeswoman Jen Cronin said: “Communication has been pretty slow, and key strategy documents are still nowhere near in line with the 2030 target. Is this how we respond to an emergency?”

She added: “We have to rapidly get fossil fuel vehicles off the road, we cannot simply replace them all with electric vehicles. We need radically more walking and cycling.”

The council has pledged to make the borough carbon-neutral by 2030 which means balancing emissions with initiatives that clean the air. But campaigners say the policy cannot wait and widespread action must be taken now.

Ms Cronin said: “We have to switch to all low carbon heating and insulate houses. We need innovative ways to fund these projects and to relax conservation areas if necessary.”

The past two weeks has seen the council clash with the Islington branch of the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) – famed for its uncompromising and disruptive action which closed down central London in the summer with a series of roadblocks and sit-ins.

The group delivered a letter to the council accusing it of not fulfilling its Climate Emergency obligations and three days of protests across the borough followed.

Council leader Labour councillor Richard Watts then fired back at the accusations against his administration, insisting Islington would not bow to “demands”.

Speaking as the petition was debated at the all-member meeting, XR member Sebastian Sandys said: “I hope the council will receive this petition in the spirit in which it is presented. It is perhaps a peace offering after the disagreements we have had in the past few weeks.

“I know that the wording of our letter was challenging to some members of the council, it is worth noting that the wording was determined by a pan-London group and not Islington XR.”

XR activists plan to target major London transport junctions again next week. Mr Sandys appealed to the council to support the demonstrations set to take place from Monday.

Green Party member Councillor Caroline Russell said: “It is crucial as elected members that we tell the truth and act as Extinction Rebellion would have us do.”

Cllr Watts said: “I was genuinely surprised to read in a couple of places that we have not done anything in response to the climate emergency, the truth is nothing could be further from the truth.”


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