Cllr Claire Holland is the Deputy Leader of Lambeth Council and Cabinet Member for Environment and Clean Air, and a councillor in Oval ward.
This week, Mayors from 90 of the biggest cities in the world are meeting at the Mayor’s summit in Copenhagen. And ahead of that summit the C40, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change, have made a bold and exciting announcement. They have committed to a Global Green New Deal to “drive an urgent, fundamental and irreversible transfer of global resources away from fossil fuels and into action that averts the climate emergency.”
This is so welcome and long overdue. There is widespread condemnation of the failure of global governments at the UN Climate Action summit last month to agree the bold and radical action we need to stop the catastrophe of climate change. A few powerful governments refused to endorse strong and necessary global action. The US were among those holding progress back. And so our city mayors have stepped into the vacuum of leadership. And that includes London’s Sadiq Khan who is a signatory to this announcement.
We have long been arguing for and creating a Green New Deal for Lambeth and campaigning for our party to adopt this strategy and so I am delighted that the Labour party manifesto will now be committing to a Green New Deal. In Lambeth, we are investing in green and clean energy that provides jobs for our residents, jobs that invest in the future of our borough rather than destroy it. We have been partnering with Repowering to put solar panels on our council estates and schools. You can see here for the latest Lambeth Community Solar project and you can invest in this exciting programme, which not only creates clean energy and reduces our carbon footprint, but also empowers the community along the way.
We have committed to procuring clean electricity from 2021 and are undertaking a massive programme of decarbonising road transport in Lambeth by installing electric vehicle charging points throughout the borough. We are phasing our own council vehicles over to ultra-low emission replacements. We are constantly looking at how we can be cleaner, greener and smarter despite savage cuts to our budget by a decade of Tory and Lib Dem austerity policies.
And we have taken ground-breaking action as a local authority when we agreed last year to divest our pension fund away from fossil fuels. The chair of our Pensions Committee Cllr Iain Simpson set out last year the pathway to secure this and how we took that important first step towards becoming the first pension fund in the country to fully divest its entire share portfolio from carbon intensive fossil fuel assets.
In a post Brexit world, where we would be over reliant on the US, do we really want to be bound to a government that stops action to tackle climate change? That could use trade as a weapon to compromise our own action on climate change? Would we not rather be working collaboratively with our European partners, to drive up our standards even higher and take the radical action required to save our future?
So, as the powerful international energy giants and global governments, including our own and the US, refuse to take action, it is up to us as communities, boroughs, Mayors and cities to step up and show leadership. Those whose vested interests remain in fossil fuels will not be swayed whilst they continue to profit from their industry. And we cannot wait. We have choices and need to exercise what leverage and power we have to tackle the climate emergency.
Cllr Claire Holland