Could Islington become a holiday destination?

Regent's canal

Regent’s Canal is perfect for low-carbon relaxing - Credit: Nicola Baird

With Glasgow hosting the big climate meeting, COP26, in November, holiday travel could have been the chance for our government to give a clear steer about cutting carbon when overseas holidays are allowed again from May 17. Instead, “Been anywhere nice?”, that archetypal hairdressers’ conversation starter, still implies a trip reached by plane.

Any holiday – or business travel - which begins and ends with the airport adds to our personal carbon footprint and global warming. Regrettably most of the ‘green list’ countries are only really reachable by plane – Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar and Israel. While the remainder are rarely thought of as holiday destinations, such as the Falkland Islands.

Founder of the Islington Faces blog and Inspiring Islington exhibition, Nicola Baird.

Nicola Baird says we cannot go back to our carbon heavy lifestyle - Credit: Nicola Baird

To tackle the climate crisis our personal carbon use should be dropping to no more than five tonnes of CO2e each year. Most people in Islington never fly at all, but if they suddenly fancied time-off in Lisbon, that’s half a tonne of CO2e used. A Singapore visit racks up between 3.5 tonnes to 12 tonnes of CO2e (depending whether you fly economy or business).

But potential holidaymakers’ fears about ticket price hikes, customs queues, vaccine passports and last-minute changes to the green list also makes 2021 the perfect moment to market Islington as a staycation destination for the rest of the UK.

Islington declared a climate emergency in 2019, so promoting our brilliant bit of London would be a low-carbon win for the council and the climate. We’ve got Upper Street restaurants, pubs with gardens and cafes to wow every visitor. From Arsenal to Joe Orton, Georgian squares to canal walks there is something for everyone. What a chance to reawaken Islington’s historic tradition of pleasure garden relaxation. The council probably doesn’t even need a marketing budget, just more public toilets for our low-carbon visitors.

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