Doom Defying

solar-panels-cllr-blackmanCouncillor Blackman alongside council vehicles fitted with solar panels

There have been plenty of reasons for climate doom recently, says Councillor Jo Blackman, who is keen to highlight Redbridge Council’s work to tackle this locally, and give cause to feel more upbeat 

Whilst our summer this year took a while to warm up, globally, temperatures soared, and on a third of days in 2023 it was more than 1.5°C hotter than pre-industrial levels – a critical threshold that has scientists worried. Yet, every day brings more news of the government rolling back on its climate policies, stoking the culture wars and fuelling conspiracy theories. 

However, a visit to the Labour Party conference gave me cause to feel more upbeat. Rather than join a race to the bottom on climate policy, Labour is developing its vision for a shift away from fossil fuels and a mass home insulation scheme. And there was genuine enthusiasm from businesses and NGOs about the potential for change.

Here in Redbridge, we are in the third year of the council’s climate action plan and we’ve had another consecutive year of reductions in council emissions. Mainly through switching to renewable sources of energy across council buildings, but also thanks to embracing innovative ways to reduce emissions. We have been one of the first councils to retrofit solar panels on council vehicles to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. And our recent trial of new technology to fill potholes is very efficient and generates 25 times less emissions than traditional techniques. We have also recently consulted on our electric vehicle charging strategy and will be installing hundreds of new chargers across the borough to aid the transition to greener vehicles.

School streets schemes continue to be rolled out in the borough and are making the roads around schools safer and encouraging walking and cycling. And we have new cycle schemes in the pipeline, including for Wanstead.

Our recycling rate is up 10% since we increased the range of materials that can be recycled and introduced wheelie bins. And overall, waste being generated has decreased.

Redbridge Council recently ran a successful clothes swap event at Wanstead Library and uniform reuse schemes are being embraced by our local schools, including Wanstead High, as well as on the High Street, with the Saint Francis Hospice shop dedicating a stand to pre-loved uniform from Aldersbrook Primary.

It’s not just the climate crisis we face; nature is also under pressure. Our tree pit adoption and pollinator pathway schemes empower residents to work together to make their street more nature-friendly. And this month, we are hosting a youth climate summit at the Town Hall because we want to work with our young people to build a sustainable future.

So, let’s ditch the culture wars, roll up our sleeves and do our bit for the future of our community and the planet.

Councillor Jo Blackman (Wanstead Village, Labour) is the Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability. Email jo.blackman@redbridge.gov.uk