Further call for council to take lead on climate actionFresh anger over Barnet plans that 'fail to prioritise' environmental action
Barnet Council is again facing calls to do more to tackle climate change after opposition councillors claimed it's lagging behind other local authorities.
Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors put pressure on the council to up its climate ambitions during a meeting of the policy and resources committee on Thursday, 30th September.
It came during discussions of the council’s Barnet Plan, which sets out its priorities for the borough, and the Local Plan, which provides a framework for development.
The council has outlined plans for a “sustainability strategy” as part of the Barnet Plan. But Lib Dem leader Gabriel Rozenberg called this an “admission of failure”, arguing there should already be a “detailed” sustainability strategy in place.
Cllr Rozenberg said: “In my view, it should not be the case that that sustainability aspect is one part of a pillar - it should be a pillar in itself. The job of decarbonising is a massive one. It needs to start right now. We are already decades too late. It needs to be going on in this borough and elsewhere.”
He added: “We are absolutely trailing, as you know, not just other local authorities around the country, but even most authorities in London.”
Opposition councillors have repeatedly called on Barnet Council to declare a climate emergency, but the authority remains one of only four in London not to have done so.
Conservative councillors defended their record and said the local authority’s carbon reduction plans would be set out in more detail.
Leader Dan Thomas said that the sustainability strategy would be a “very big, important piece of work”, and councillors would “very soon” be made aware of the carbon reductions made by the council. He added that the borough had a role to play in helping the government meet its target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Dean Cohen, chair of the environment committee, said the council had already been taking action on sustainability, and the strategy would cover the “future element”. When pressed by Cllr Rozenberg, he said the council had introduced charging points for electric cars and worked with schools and other organisations to help reduce their carbon footprints.
Labour’s Ross Houston said “many other authorities” had an ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030, arguing Barnet was “very much behind the curve” on this and “in denial of climate change”.
During the discussion on the Local Plan, Labour’s Alison Moore pointed out the Environment Agency had responded to the document suggesting it could be improved by “bringing the issue of climate change to the forefront of what the borough is trying to achieve”.