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Climate emergency declared in Tower Hamlets over its 'toxic' air pollution levels

PUBLISHED: 14:00 22 March 2019

Two pupils from Lansbury School tell the council what they want done to tackle carbon emissions. Pic: Rachael Burford

Two pupils from Lansbury School tell the council what they want done to tackle carbon emissions. Pic: Rachael Burford

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Tower Hamlets Council has declared a climate emergency over its 'toxic' air pollution levels.

On Wednesday it agreed to become carbon neutral by 2025 and to introduce a revised environmental plan to meet the target.

Councillors heard more than 2,200 residents signed a petition demanding more be done about the borough’s air quality, which is the fifth worst in London and reducing children’s lung capacity.

Two pupils from Lansbury Lawrence Primary School received a standing ovation from the chamber after explaining what they wanted done to tackle carbon emissions.

Zain Ali, 10, said: “We want more moss to grow around our school site because it is an excellent air purifier.”

Tower Hamlets is the 28th council in the UK to declare a climate emergency and the second London borough.

Lambeth declared a state of emergency over carbon emissions last month.

Mayor John Biggs said: ‘’Research shows that children’s lungs in Tower Hamlets have up to 10 per cent less lung capacity than the national average.

“Politicians everywhere need to listen to the message from young people that if we don’t change our actions now we will leave a legacy of a climate emergency. We are taking steps across the borough to reduce our impact on the planet.”

The council agreed to urgently air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels in Tower Hamlets by 2025, implement traffic free ‘school streets’ for all at-risk schools and campaign for an electric-only bus fleet on all TfL bus routes through the borough.

Campaigner Ameneh Mahloudji said: “We are delighted that Tower Hamlets Council has declared a climate emergency. In our borough, horrific air pollution means that children are growing up with stunted lungs.

“This is because of our addiction to fossil fuels, which is also causing rapid climate breakdown.

“Cutting carbon emissions to zero as early as 2025 in Tower Hamlets will help to save our future, as well as let us breathe clean air. It is a matter of life and death – we simply do not have years and years to wait. This declaration must result in urgent action.”

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