Queen’s Park parish declares climate emergency
London’s only parish council has declared a climate emergency, with an ambitious target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (meaning any emissions which cannot be eliminated are offset) by May 2022 – in just 25 months’ time. Queen’s Park Community Council, which is a non-party-political council made up of 12 residents of the north Westminster neighbourhood, voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency at a meeting on Wednesday night. An audit of the council’s emissions was agreed as the first step.
Cllr Susanna Rustin, who proposed the motion, said “Ever since Queen’s Park Council was set up in 2014 we have worked hard to improve our local environment. We have our own citizen-science air quality monitoring project, lobbied successfully for the first cycle parking hangars in the borough, and continue to work with local volunteers to make our neighbourhood park a better place for people and wildlife. I’m hugely proud that we are now going to lead the way on emissions reductions in the City of Westminster.”
“The severe flooding across parts of England at the moment, combined with recent events such as the bush fires in Australia, makes it frighteningly clear that the climate crisis is not a problem for the future but for now. I’m determined that Queen’s Park will play its part in trying to keep the planet safe and healthy for our children and our children’s children.”
Karen Buck, the local MP, said “Global warming represents the greatest challenge humanity now faces, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming in its scale- what can individuals do in the face of such a challenge? Yet by acting with others in our communities we can raise awareness, share information and support small scale projects which collectively can make a real difference. It’s great to see our own community council taking a lead in this.”
Westminster City Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg said he and the other ward councillors are “keen to work with Queen’s Park council to reduce carbon emissions across the ward and in Westminster more widely.” Queen’s Park Bangladeshi Association and members of the Friends of Queen’s Park Gardens group also offered their support.
The UK parliament declared a climate emergency in May 2019, with Westminster City Council following suit in September. While the legally binding net-zero target for the UK as a whole is 2050, councils and other organisations have committed to more ambitious targets and are developing strategies to achieve them across the UK. Westminster City Council’s target is 2030 for the council itself, and 2040 for the borough as a whole.
The last 10 years were the hottest decade on record, and the UN has called for cuts of 7.6% a year for a decade. Unless carbon emissions begin to reduce quickly, the Earth is predicted to heat up by more than 2 degrees centigrade – a temperature rise that is expected to lead to massive displacement of people, unprecedented sea level rises, and extreme weather of all kinds.