On Monday 14 March 180 young people from across 31 schools came together at Jo Richardson Community School to participate in Barking and Dagenham’s first Youth Climate Summit. Facilitated by Votes for Schools, E.on, and Connected Kerb, it was a chance for young people to feed into the council’s Zero-Carbon Roadmap. Martin Offiah MBE, Brand Ambassador for Connected Kerb and British sporting hero was the special guest who spoke passionately about his journey and why taking action to protect the environment is so important, particularly for the next generation.
As the Member Champion for Climate Change in Barking and Dagenham, I provided some closing remarks at the end of the day.
The full text can be found below.
My name is Councillor Andrew Achilleos, and I am the Member champion for Climate Change here in our borough.
Lots of people see climate change as a distant threat, something that doesn’t affect them. People think about deforestation in South America, or wildfires in Greece.
Last year a tornado ripped through the streets of Barking and there are increasing flood risks in areas like ours that have a high concentration of waterways. Climate change is happening here and now.
If we want to avert a climate disaster it will take enthusiastic young people like you, who are passionate about the environment and want to make the world a better, safer, and more sustainable place to live.
It’s my job to champion your ideas, and to advise the council leadership.
I was interested to hear your thoughts on our priorities, and I’ve picked out one in particular regarding waste and recycling. Barking and Dagenham currently recycles only 25% of its waste, the lowest rate in London. We must do better, and we will.
I agree with you that 35% by 2030 is too low a target, and I’ll be taking this back to the council for discussion as we further develop our plans.
You will be pleased to know that we are already working incredibly hard to tackle climate change in Barking and Dagenham.
- We’re using new technology to properly insulate our oldest homes, because poorly insulated housing is responsible for around 30% of our carbon emissions.
- We’re also helping people switch to renewable energy, investing in solar and heat pump technology.
- We’re encouraging people to drive electric vehicles and working with Connected Kerb, we are installing 250 charge points this year, and 2000 by 2026.
- We are also working hard to educate our residents to reduce, reuse and recycle. A big part of what we are trying to do is change people’s behaviour, encouraging residents to make responsible choices.
- In 2019 we pledged to start phasing out single use plastics from our organisation, and we’re now looking at ways we can use recycled materials like plastics in the future, to develop new infrastructure such as roads and footpaths.
- And we are planting thousands of trees across the borough, not only in our parks but on our streets and outside your schools to improve air quality.
- Last year we made a pledge to double our canopy cover by 2040and we’re already off to a great start with the new Forest of Thanks in Parsloes Park where 40,000 trees have now been planted by volunteers – boosting biodiversity, storing carbon and rainwater, and improving the air we breathe.
In the future we want people to think of Barking and Dagenham as the Green Capital of the Capital.
This is just the beginning of our journey to net-zero, there is a lot of work to do, but it starts here, with you, and with us.
We can avoid a climate crisis, but only if we work together as a community.