This is the challenge of our generation warns Tim Mitchell, Deputy Leader of Westminster City Council.
This month we will declare a Climate Emergency* – signaling our intention for the council to become carbon neutral by 2030 and for the whole city to follow suit by 2040 – ten years ahead of Government targets.
As the authority covering the capital of the capital, we face unique challenges. Our 8.9 square miles of central London alone, attract one million visitors each day and produce more carbon emissions than the whole of Cardiff or Newcastle.
We already lead the way with our environmental campaigns having introduced the first diesel surcharge, a school’s clean air fund and more EV infrastructure than other London borough. Two years ago, we launched our #DontBeIdle campaign to cut engine idling at the kerbside which has over 14,000 supporters. But there is much more to be done.
We cannot allow our school children to continue to sit in polluted classrooms. All but two of the borough’s schools break the safe limit for NO2 and the council suffers from some of the worst pollution.
The environment is a leading concern for our residents, so we are under no illusion about the scale of the challenge we face but the climate and our weather patterns pay no attention to our boarders.
As a council we will do all we can, and we will soon be publishing a new carbon reduction strategy but if we are serious about tackling climate change everyone needs to do their bit.
That’s why in coming months we will be introducing new campaigns aimed at encouraging residents and businesses, but also our visitors, to be cleaner and greener.
Setting the target is the easy bit. This is the biggest challenge facing our generation and the hard work starts now.
*A motion to declare a climate emergency will be considered at full council on 18 September