Green leader calls on North East to take more ‘ambitious’ climate action as party targets local elections

The Green Party co-leader has called on north-eastern councils to be more “ambitious” in their action to combat climate change.

Carla Denyer was in the region Tuesday as her party pushes for major gains in next month’s local elections. The Greens are looking for big success in areas such as Darlington and South Tyneside, where they already have some council seats, and want their first councilors elected in others, including Newcastle and Gateshead.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service during the election campaign in Crawcrook, Ms Denyer said authorities in the North East who had declared climate emergencies must start enacting more “ambitious policies” to reach net zero.

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The Bristol councilor, who authored Europe’s first climate emergency declaration in 2018, said: “My motion in Bristol lowered Bristol’s target date for net zero from 2050 to 2030 and a lot of other advice, I think around 80% in the UK now, have followed my lead and come up with similar statements, including here in Gateshead. The problem, however, is that we often don’t see that being followed through with concrete action to reduce carbon emissions. In many councils we see consultants are hired, plans and strategies are published, but not much in the way of firm action to reduce carbon emissions now.

“I would say to council leaders in this region and across the country that in many cases, we know what needs to happen. We know we need to insulate people’s homes to not only reduce their carbon emissions, but also their bills, and provide warmer, more comfortable homes.

Green Party leader Carla Denyer pictured in Crawcrook(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

“We need to make it easier for people to commute, walk and bike because a large portion of the people who are dependent on their cars don’t want to be, they want to switch to modes of transportation that are better for the climate. and better for your health, if the facilities are there.

“There are many things that local councils can do at this time. Yes, there is a place for strategies, plans and reports from consultants, but in many cases we know what needs to happen, so let’s go ahead and do it.”

This year has seen the introduction of the new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) around Newcastle city center, which imposes daily tolls on some older, highly polluting vehicles in an effort to reduce levels of illegal pollution. Unlike the Bristol equivalent, the Tyneside charging area does not affect private cars: only buses, coaches, taxis and trucks are affected for now, with vans to follow this summer.

Asked if the CAZ was strict enough to combat Newcastle’s emissions problems, Denyer said she wasn’t sure of the exact calculations made to assess the impact of tolls here, but that air pollution is a “big problem for people’s health.

The Durham University alumna, who later visited Whitley Bay on her tour of the north-east, added: “I’ve heard that air pollution causes 300 or 400 premature deaths (per year) on Tyneside and it’s a similar number in Bristol. where I am a councillor.

“300 or 400 people die prematurely every year from air pollution, if it were like this with our drinking water it would be an outrage, but for some reason because it is our air, those in power have not taken action until now. It’s really important to have a Clean Air Zone and reduce those illegal levels of pollution.”

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