Islington Green: How to create a better world

Ice cream van adapted to a cleaner, quieter and less climate-polluting fuel on Highbury Fields. Pict

Ice cream van adapted to a cleaner, quieter and less climate-polluting fuel on Highbury Fields. Picture: Nicola Baird - Credit: Archant

Recently Extinction Rebellion (XR), fed up with a lack of media coverage about climate change solutions, decided to target the printing presses of the newspapers they feel don’t write about it - the Sun, Times, Telegraph and Daily Mail.

The action turned into a Twitter storm when Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted on Saturday, September 5: “This morning people across the country will be prevented from reading their newspaper because of the actions of Extinction Rebellion.

“This attack on our free press, society and democracy is completely unacceptable.”

As we struggle to send our kids to school, simultaneously worrying about keeping our jobs or coping with new office rules – it’s clear the Covid-19 pandemic has altered everything.

On that same Saturday, Britain’s Got Talent 2019 winners, Diversity, performed a phenomenal Black Lives Matter dance – called Hindsight 2020 – showing how George Floyd’s death in America has sparked a new understanding about the need for structural change and a dismantling of institutional racism. This was a wake-up call for change, offering a vision where after lockdown we discovered “we preferred the world we found, to the one we left behind.”

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Yet on the same day as Priti Patel’s tweet, the Guardian shared that across Britain car use was back to 87% of its usual amount, as if that was a good thing. It’s not! That’s just taking things back to an out-of-date normal where the air is so polluted kids develop asthma and people die early.

So how are we going to create that better world in Islington? A world that is not such a mix of “poverty and plenty” (as Diversity put it). A world where people aren’t relying on food banks, where 47 per cent of our school kids don’t live in poverty and where there is a clear effort to tackle climate change?

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In Islington the simplest way is to learn to love (or tolerate) the roll-out of the low traffic neighbourhoods, which stop rat running and make our area safer to walk, cycle or scoot through.

By switching to active travel people get fitter and pollution is tackled too.

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