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Climate emergency


In March, Tower Hamlets became one of the first councils in the country to declare a climate emergency. 

The facts

  • 40 per cent of residents in Tower Hamlets live in areas that breach EU and government air pollution guidance.
  • Our children’s lungs are up to 10 per cent smaller because of air pollution.
  • We are London’s third highest emitter of CO2.
  • 77 per cent of our residents are exposed to unsafe pollution levels.
  • Air pollution is linked to asthma, heart disease, dementia, lung cancer and low birth weight.

The evidence is clear - if we don't act quickly then we face extreme consequences.

What we're doing about it

  • We are committed to achieving a 60 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from our own operations by 2020.
  • We aim to become a zero-carbon or carbon neutral council by 2025. 
  • Our Breathe Clean campaign is working to raise awareness about the dangers of poor air quality and the actions that need to be taken to tackle the problem. 
  • We're consulting on plans to set up school streets near local schools. They will see some roads closed entirely to traffic with others having timed restrictions based around the school day. This will help to reduce the amount of dirty air our children are breathing in.
  • We’ve set up an Air Quality Fund, worth £200,000, to help residents and community groups deliver projects that tackle air pollution. Successful bids have included a primary school which applied to install a green screen around a nursery and a housing provider that applied to install electric vehicle charging points.
  • We’re working to make it easier for residents and visitors to use bicycles in the borough and to use public transport instead of cars.
  • We’re also encouraging residents to recycle more. As part of that commitment, we're removing single-use plastic from council offices.

These steps are a great start, but we also need others to play their part too. The reality is that we need urgent action on a regional, national and global level to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The council will continue to lobby for effective change at all levels of government.

Our Air Quality Action Plan promises

  • We will continue to offer a domestic boiler refit project.
  • We will implement a programme to reduce carbon emissions in our schools, providing funding towards boiler replacements and insulation schemes.
  • We will lead by example by ensuring the council's new Town Hall is a best practice example of a sustainable and low emissions development in regards to air pollution and CO2 with both air quality neutral and carbon zero policies being met.
  • We will install 300 on-street electric vehicle charging points including some rapid chargers to help enable the take up of electric taxis and commercial vehicles.
  • We will investigate the reprioritisation of road space to smooth traffic flow, reduce congestion, improve bus journey times, cycling and pedestrian experience, and reduce emissions caused by congested traffic.
  • We will lobby and work with TFL to reduce emissions from busses in the borough e.g. through green bus corridors
  • We will lobby the Greater London Assembly to strengthen their Air Quality Neutral Policy and lower the combined heat and power emission limits in current guidance.