The much-awaited publication of the IPCC report on the impacts of Climate Change earlier this week contained, as we knew it would, dire warnings about the effects of humans on our climate. We've known for decades that we need to act but kicking the difficult stuff into the long grass was how local and national governments mishandled the situation so far. There some commitments to make big changes being made, but they need to be followed up with action. When faced with an unknown virus, emergency action was taken. We know it can be done as we've all lived through it and whether you agree with exactly how it was dealt with or whether you think other political parties would have done a better job is now irrelevant. Climate change is with us and no-one can deny that it's real and we have to act. We can't wait for politicians to make their tortuous arguments and score political points – we're way beyond that.
It's easy to feel totally powerless, to wring our hands for our childrens' futures and to sit tight hoping for a miracle which won't happen. So we need to crack on and do what each of us can do at a micro level. Here are some ideas which were showcased on 8th August at a community event.
Join local volunteer groups and campaign for more trees (which provide shade, clean the air and sequester (store) carbon and water). Leave the car at home, get on a bike or walk for shorter journeys (less polluting and good for general health). Don't believe that 'electric vehicles are the solution' as they aren't; think about getting rid of your car altogether and free up a parking space for a beautiful green community parklet (being in a green space has proven health benefits; cements local communities, growing food and flowers locally).
If you were in Canonbury last weekend, various groups were steadfastly handing out leaflets in the sometimes torrential rain (what climate change) and the vast majority of passers-by were very positive about the projects being talked about. People loved the low traffic neighbourhoods and the quieter safer streets. They were keen to find empty treepits which could be used for one of the 200 trees coming to Islington in the autumn. The pop-up parklet made them smile. And many begun using bikes, saying that there was no need for a car here in Islington.
It was so encouraging to see that people are already whether they recognise it or not acting to support the climate by making changes in their own lifestyles. But we need to do so much more, as do the local and national government. Come and join one of the groups who were on the streets on Sunday and help make that vital difference which will slow down our descent into floods, fires and poverty.
#lowtrafficislington (including us!)
Islington Living Streets
Published in Islington Gazette on 18 August 2021