Havering Council hits back after climate group’s zero score

Activists have given Havering Council zero marks on a “climate change scorecard” for being too slow to publish its plan to help save the planet.

Campaign group Climate Emergency UK, who have surveyed every council in the UK, gave Havering a 0% score for failing to publish a climate change action plan by September last year.

The group created a scorecard system that judges each council on their action plan’s goals, cost and level of public engagement.

Havering did not respond to Climate Emergency UK’s survey, or the final email in September 2021 offering three weeks to reply.

In 2019 a wave of London boroughs declared a climate emergency, with the exception of Havering. Barnet, Bexley and Bromley.

Climate Emergency UK’s Isaac Beevor said local authorities can help to cut the country’s emissions by 30 per cent so it is “vital” they take action.

He added: “While we understand that councils need much more support and funding from National Government, and have been stretched by responding to the pandemic, the fact that some councils have developed well thought out, costed and ambitious plans, shows that it is possible.”

The council at last agreed what council leader Damian White calls a “comprehensive” climate change action plan in November last year.

He said Climate Emergency UK was “wrong” for judging his council by September, which is an “arbitrary” date that doesn’t reflect the work that has been done already.

He added: “Of course it is always useful to have outside scrutiny, so we will be publishing our progress for all to see.”

Under the agreed plan, the council will be carbon neutral by 2040, a decade ahead of the government’s targets.

It will also retrofit buildings to improve energy performance, support low emissions in its spending, and develop a cycling and walking plan.

Analysis by the council shows that 80 per cent of Havering’s carbon emissions come from transport and people’s homes.

In December last year opposition councillors forced a debate over the plan, criticising its lack of costing, priorities or how the plan would be monitored.

After an hour Conservative councillors voted to cut the meeting short, a move Labour group leader Keith Darvill called “absolutely disgraceful”.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter