‘Government must step up renewable energy production’ warns Islington Council, as it tries to reach net zero carbon goal

A rainbow from over a windfarm off the coast of Blyth in Norhumberland. Picture: Owen Humphreys/ PA Archive/PA Images

A rainbow from over a windfarm off the coast of Blyth in Norhumberland. Picture: Owen Humphreys/ PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA

Islington Council has warned the government must “step up” in the production of decarbonised electricity, so the borough can meet its goal of net zero carbon by 2030, to help avert a climate catastrophe.

The council has published two blueprints, “Vision 2030” and the “Islington Transport Strategy 2020-2041”, to map out its long-term strategies to eliminate carbon emissions, in light of the climate emergency declared last year.

Burning fossil fuels has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, leading global temperatures to rise by about 0.8 to 1.2ºC to date, bringing about more extreme weather and rising sea levels.

Scientists have said that global carbon emissions should reach net zero by 2050 to make sure global warming doesn’t increase by more than 1.5ºC, which would limit damage to ecosystems and human health.

The Vision 2030 report outlines how the council - which contributes to four per cent of Islington’s total carbon emissions - plans to reach net zero carbon within a decade.

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Initiatives include helping to improve energy efficiency and reducing the level of carbon emissions from residents’ homes, moving to green electricity and encouraging and helping others to do the same, working with businesses to help make Islington’s economy greener, securing greener development with additional green planning policies, and helping and encouraging residents and other organisations to play their part.

In terms of the the transport strategy, the council plans another 14 people-friendly streets neighbourhoods on top of the six it has already announced to reduce rat-running, to implement its school streets scheme at all primary schools, and to electrify the council’s fleet of vehicles.

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The report states: “We acknowledge that eliminating carbon emissions in Islington is a huge challenge, and that even with our best efforts there will likely be residual emissions.

“We need decarbonised electricity generation to stand any chance of meeting our commitments, which is only something central government can do.”

A government spokesperson said it is already trying to decarbonise electricity generation as part of our commitment to achieve net zero by 2050 through its “Ten Point Plan”.

“By 2030 we plan to build a world-leading offshore wind industry with the ability to power every home in the UK, targeting 40GW of offshore wind power,” they added.

“We will invest up to £1 billion to support the establishment of carbon capture, utilization and storage, which will be crucial in decarbonising our industrial regions.”

Achieving net zero does not necessarily mean completely eliminating all emissions, but requires any remaining emissions to be offset by activities that remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The report notes that the simplest method of sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is tree planting - which will not be lost on campaigners fighting to stop six 50-year-old trees at Highbury Corner being chopped down by the council.

Vision 2030 cites a 2019 report by Forest Research, which found that the average mature oak or London Plane tree stores three tonnes of carbon, which is the equivalent of 11 tonnes of CO2.

The annual sequestration of Islington’s own tree stock is estimated to be an average of 10.8 kg of carbon a year.

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