View from the chamber: 'We’re in the middle of a climate emergency'

Council workers clearing debris in Wilmington Gardens, Barking, on Saturday following the Barking "t

Council workers clearing debris in Wilmington Gardens following the Barking tornado - Credit: Ken Mears

We had a freak tornado in Barking. I was relieved to hear no-one was injured. But the online videos of damaged roofs, fallen walls, smashed car windows and wheelie bins being blown down the road were scary.

I was there within minutes of the event, along with staff from the council, making sure people got the help they need. On the other side of the borough, we had flash flooding. These are just two examples of how our community is being affected by extreme weather.

It should be clear to all of us that we’re in the middle of a climate emergency. Unless we act now it will be too late to do anything about it. It won’t be easy and will involve difficult decisions.

If we don’t act, extreme weather will become the norm and people’s homes and businesses will be at risk and lives could be lost.

We need to acknowledge that whilst this is not going to be popular with everyone and will involve making some lifestyle changes - we’ve got to act now. Doing nothing is not an option.

Addressing dirty, polluting vehicles is not a war on motorists, it is a recognition of the need for a better living environment.

Older people are also at risk because of the extreme weather caused by climate change.

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Every time we get a heatwave, some cannot cope with the temperatures and there is a risk of death. The same goes for the winter when extreme lows hit.

Council leader Darren Rodwell. Picture: Be First

Cllr Darren Rodwell says that acting on the climate emergency will not be popular with everybody - Credit: BeFirst

The council is taking the first steps to promote a green agenda to help protect people across the borough.

We’ve recently expanded our recycling programmes, putting up devices to measure emissions and we’ve appointed a member champion for climate change.

We’re also installing more electric vehicle charging points, planting more trees and yes, we are charging a little more for parking permits for the most polluting vehicles. 

But the truth is the things we do locally are shaped by what is happening nationally and internationally. We need to bring pressure upon governments and industry around the world to get them to clean up their act too.

Whilst I understand people may find it difficult, we’ve got to embrace change for the good of the community and the planet.

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