Councillors failed to back a call to make Barnet a carbon neutral borough by 2030 – despite growing concerns over the effects of global warming.

A motion proposed by Labour environment spokesman Cllr Alan Schneiderman at Tuesday’s (July 30) full council meeting called on councillors to acknowledge there is a climate emergency.

Cllr Schneiderman proposed setting up a climate change action group that would include local schools, employers and environmental groups to help make the borough carbon neutral by 2030.

But Conservative chairman of the environment committee Cllr Dean Cohen amended the motion to remove the carbon-neutral goal and stress that Barnet was already pursuing climate-friendly policies.

Cllr Cohen’s amendment points out that Parliament has agreed a motion declaring an environment and climate emergency, and that Barnet faces the same environmental challenges as the rest of the UK.

It also states that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan should help cut emissions from roads outside the council’s control.

While other councils – including neighbouring Enfield and Haringey – have made clear climate emergency declarations, it left Barnet’s position open to a party-political dispute.

Cllr Schneiderman later tweeted: “Disappointing that Barnet Tories have tonight refused to declare a climate emergency and amended the Barnet Labour motion that I moved along with Anne Clarke and Sara Conway by deleting all our positive actions, including a citizens assembly and an energy/sustainability officer.”



But the Barnet Conservatives tweeted: “Labour just voted down their own motion to declare a climate emergency, simply because they won’t accept any criticism of the Mayor of London.



“While Conservatives take action on the environment, Labour tonight proved their claims are little more than hot air.”

A United Nations report published in 2018 warned that failing to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could cause major damage to the environment.

Since then, more than 60 councils across the UK have declared climate emergencies – several of which are under Conservative control, including Wandsworth, Kent and Hertfordshire.

Cllr Schneiderman told councillors: “Climate change is the most important issue we will be discussing, not just tonight but for years to come.

“We need to protect our future and ability to live in a safe world – but we do need to act now.”

Cllr Schneiderman called on the council to increase recycling and bring back separate food waste collections.

But Cllr Cohen pointed out that the council had already taken steps to combat climate change, including drawing up an action plan to improve air quality and a commitment to plant 4,500 new trees during the next five years.

Cllr Cohen called on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Government to help the council contribute to national climate targets.

His amended motion says Mr Khan should cut emissions from roads that fall outside of the council’s jurisdiction and introduce cleaner buses near to schools.

Cllr Cohen said: “While money has been gratefully received from the mayor to pursue some initiatives, the ULEZ (ultra-low emission zone) proposals to be brought in next year are not likely going to help Barnet.

“It will push emissions onto roads that are outside the zone and at the same time have a negative financial impact on residents who can least afford to change their cars.”

The Conservatives refused to back a Labour amendment to Cllr Schneiderman’s motion that proposed inviting climate activist Greta Thunberg to address the council.

Cllr Cohen’s amended motion was then passed on the back of Conservative support, with Labour voting against.

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