Wednesday 6 December 2023

Barnet Council's embarrassing lack of commitment to addressing climate change

Barnet Councils new recycling supremo

 Barnet Council put a press release out on the 29th November detailing the 'progress' it has made since declaring a climate emergency 18 months ago. Lets start by seeing what they've said (Click here to read the original release)

Ahead of COP28, Thursday 30 November to 12 December 2023, Cllr Alan Schneiderman Barnet Cabinet member for the Environment and Climate Change, has taken some time to reflect on the changes that the council has made and the challenges to come.

Cllr Schneiderman said:

“The world’s leaders will soon convene in Dubai for COP28, the international summit on climate change. International cooperation is needed to tackle the climate crisis, but so too is local action. Eighteen months ago, Barnet Council declared a climate and biodiversity emergency and we have placed sustainability at the heart of our plans in caring for people, our places and the planet.   

“We have set ourselves the target of being a net zero council by 2030 and borough by 2042 - which we can only do if we all work together.

“In January, we launched our ‘BarNET ZERO’ campaign, to raise awareness of the issues, enable people to contribute ideas, and to give people the know-how to reduce carbon emissions at home and at work.

“An important step forward has been our citizens’ and young people’s assemblies on climate change, which explored the question ‘What more can we do together to make Barnet more sustainable, now and in the future?

“The assemblies have given their recommendations and we have responded to these. This is the first step in setting the agenda and the plans for the coming years, as we collaborate with communities, residents, businesses and organisations to become one of London’s most sustainable boroughs.

“The programme of practical changes to things like infrastructure has already made rapid progress.

“We have installed over 700 electric vehicle charge points with another 1,300 to be installed by April 2024 to help residents reduce their carbon footprint while also improving the air we breathe.

“We have installed heat pumps and solar panels in 17 buildings across the borough, including the council’s main office building in Colindale and five libraries.

“We are continuing work on the £8bn Brent Cross Town development - one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe - which will have an on-site energy centre and the largest air source heat pump installation in Europe.

“We cannot underestimate the scale of the task ahead of us, but nor should we see it as insurmountable. Working together, we have already achieved a great deal. I hope COP28 will provide the world with the direction it needs, but locally we have a plan in place and the will to make it happen."

Forgive me if I am totally underwhelmed and unimpressed by this. Firstly, there are 17 libraries in the Borough. Only five have panels/ heat pumps. Getting these installed is an absolute no brainer. With current energy prices, this should pay for itself within five years. The council could have been over a third of the way to recouping if they'd installed this straight away. It would be a visible demonstration to all of our communities. What about all of the Council owned schools etc?

The council reports that they've installed 700car charging points with 1,300 more on the way. This is the only mention of transport. The biggest change we can make is modal shift, away from cars. Much of the electricity used to charge these cars is still produced by fossil fuels. Barnet has the worst cycling provision of just about any Borough. To the best of my knowledge, Barnet Labour has made no commitment to any improvements in public transport. Croydon built a Tram system to improve cross Borough transport. Barnet has more people than Croydon, we have disused rail lines that would be ideal for conversion.

I hardly think that trumpeting a massive development using hundreds of thousands of tons of building materials, such as concrete, which produces huge amounts of CO2 is the cleverest affirmation of their green credentials. 

Where are the schemes to properly insulate homes, especially those of low income families? Where are the recycling schemes? Where is the commitment to 15 minute cities?

They've had eighteen months and to be quite honest, this is an appalling failure. Like most politicians, it seems that Barnet Labours response to a crisis is to employ a few PR consultants to try and polish the turds they deliver. 

Of course th Barnet Tories were fast worse, but they've been gone 18 months now, so we need to see real change

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