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Public services reduce CO2 emissions to help tackle Tower Hamlets' climate emergency

PUBLISHED: 07:49 07 August 2019

Tower Hamlets mayor battling to reducde CO2 emissions. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets mayor battling to reducde CO2 emissions. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by almost a fifth in public services run by Tower Hamlets Council just five months after the East End was declared a "climate emergency" zone.

Mayor John Biggs... Mayor John Biggs... "We must make our actions match our words." Picture: Mike Brooke

An 18 per cent drop has been recorded by the authority compared to a year ago.

Progress has been tracked as part of a carbon management plan for its public services.

"This significant reduction gives me confidence that we'll achieve being carbon neutral by 2025," mayor John Biggs said.

"We became one of the first local authorities in March to declare a climate emergency. Now it's important that we make our actions match our words."

The town hall has committed to a 60pc reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020, potentially saving more than £2million in costs of public services, having notched up a 58pc saving so far.

Clean air ‘supremo’ Rachel Blake... Clean air ‘supremo’ Rachel Blake... "Getting to grips with our environmental impact has never been more important." Picture: Mike Brooke

The council has set up a sustainable development team which is taking the lead on carbon reduction in public services, including managing offices and community buildings, schools, transport and street lighting.

Now a campaign has begun this week for the public to follow the town hall's example and go for more eco-friendly energy options in the home such as solar heating and LED lighting.

The council's cabinet member for air quality, Rachel Blake, said: "We're working to help schools and the public make good decisions on energy efficiency in homes and buildings, as well as reducing the council's own carbon footprint.

"Getting to grips with our environmental impact has never been more important.

"An 18 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions is a great start, but we know there is a long way to go.

Solar energy panels on a housing estate in Poplar... one solution to help reduce CO2 emissions. Picture: Poplar HarcaSolar energy panels on a housing estate in Poplar... one solution to help reduce CO2 emissions. Picture: Poplar Harca

"I'm confident we can rise to the challenge."

She warned an open forum on pollution held at Whitechapel last month that time was running out to reduce emissions by 60 per cent by next year.

Some of the projects under way include gradually replacing all street lights with high efficiency LED lighting, which could save £2.7m from council tax by next year. Grants are also being given to schools for energy efficiency projects to save an average of £5,400 each in fuel costs annually.

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