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a new type of river management is comingIf you're a little puzzled about the recent enthusiasm for creating small rain gardens (the latest being in the middle of Betstyle Circus), bringing culverted streams back to the surface, asking householders not to completely pave over their front gardens, slowing down streams by planting vegetation, creating "wetlands" and deliberately flooding selected areas after heavy rain, then a new short animated film gives the clearest explanation that I've seen so far.

The film is mostly about reducing flood risk - not necessarily threatening areas anywhere near where the measures are being taken.  For instance, the extensive work that was carried out a few years ago to dam the Salmons Brook at Cheyne Walk open space was designed to prevent flooding in areas further east, in Edmonton.  The work has reduced the flood risk to more than 2,500 homes.  And because of climate change, the frequency of extremely heavy rain is increasing.  But the same measures also clean the water - see below.

While the Cheyne Walk open space project involved civil engineering and concrete, Thames 21 and its partners are about to start work on a new "natural flood management" scheme to further reduce problems downstream along the Salmons Brook.  This involves working with nature rather than trying to overcome it - using and enhancing the natural landscape’s ability to store and slow flood waters. Depending on the local area, that could involve planting trees, reducing soil compaction, creating wetlands or leaky dams. The Salmons Brook NFM project will concentrate on the upper, higher area of the Salmons Brook catchment: north of Enfield Road, through Trent Park and as far as the Ridgeway Road, where there is a large amount of agricultural and park land. This includes the Merryhills Brook and the Leeging Beech Gutter.

Why "Thames 21"?  Because we're in the 21st century and because another advantage of slowing down and filtering water flow is that it helps remove impurities, such as the particles of rubber from tyres and diesel exhausts that cars leave behind on roads and is washed into drains and streams.  The water in the Salmons Brook, Pymmes Brook and other local streams goes into the Lee and eventually into the Thames at Limehouse, taking with it pollution picked up along the way.  So Thames 21's ultimate role is to clean up the Thames.

You can read about this in more detail at the links below and help with the work yourself, since much of the work will be small-scale and carried out using volunteers.

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In this Enfield Voices webinar Francis Sealey interviews Adam McGibbon about the Divest Enfield campaign.

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divest enfield croppedMembers of environmental campaign group Divest Enfield are celebrating the fact that all three Enfield MPs have now thrown their weight behind fossil fuel divestment campaigns. Divest Enfield is calling on Enfield Council to follow the parliamentarians' example and stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

In response to appeals from constituents, Edmonton MP Kate Osamor and Enfield North member Joan Ryan last week both signed the Divest Parliament campaign pledge. They join Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous, who had already signed, and a further 180 MPs from across the political spectrum.

"Enfield Council, please follow Joan, Bambos and Kate’s lead"

Georgina Bavetta, Divest Enfield spokesperson, says that by engaging with their own pension fund, MPs have the opportunity to show crucial leadership on climate change, responsible investment and the transition to a sustainable economy:

“We are really happy that all of Enfield’s MPs now accept the rationale behind divesting from fossil fuels. They have demonstrated with their leadership that fossil fuel companies are increasingly financially risky and morally dubious. After last summer’s heatwaves, it’s clear that we need to act now to stop climate change and a necessary step is to divest from the fossil fuel companies that have created this crisis.

"Now that Enfield’s MPs have accepted the principle of fossil fuel divestment, we urge their colleagues on Enfield Council to follow, and heed our call to divest the £60 million they have invested in fossil fuel companies via the Council pension fund. The time to act is now – Enfield Council, please follow Joan, Bambos and Kate’s lead.”

Why divest?

The fossil fuel divestment movement believes that fossil fuel companies are using their money, power and influence to block every serious attempt to stop climate change. The act of divestment aims to toxify their reputation and build political support for climate action. Institutions worth a combined $6.24 trillion US dollars have already committed to divest. Prominent divestment supporters include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Campaigners say that fossil fuel investments are not just unethical - they are also increasingly risky because action on climate change could render them worthless – creating ‘stranded assets’ that cannot be burned safely. These warnings have come  from serious financial commentators including the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney..

Links

Divest Parliament (Details of the pledge plus a list of all MP signatories)

Divest Enfield on Facebook

Divest Enfield petition

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imagecampaigners celebrate islington council decision to divest from fossil fuelsCampaigners celebrate Islington Council's decision to divest from fossil fuels

Following the announcement on Friday that Islington Council is to divest from investments in fossil fuel companies, climate change campaigners in our borough are urging Enfield Council to follow suit.

There were two main reasons for last week's decision by Islington Council:  they do not wish pension fund money invested in coal, gas and oil to become "stranded" as the world moves away from a carbon-based economy; and, more importantly, they wish to contribute to global efforts to keep the earth’s temperature from rising by more than 2°C.

For a safe climate, clean energy and future-proof pensions

Georgina Bavetta of the Divest Enfield campaign says that Enfield Council should take heed:  “Islington Council’s decision piles even more pressure on Enfield Council. When will they announce plans to divest the £60 million they hold in investments in fossil fuels?

“Residents are responding to our campaign – they want Enfield Council to take action for a safe climate, for clean energy and for future-proof pensions that are free of increasingly risky fossil fuel divestments.

“Islington have taken a step to future-proof their pensions. We urge Enfield Council to speak to their colleagues in Islington and follow their lead.”

Blocking attempts to stop climate change

The global fossil fuel divestment movement believes that fossil fuel companies are using their money, power and influence to block every serious attempt to stop climate change. The act of divestment aims to toxify their reputation and build political support for climate action. Institutions worth a combined $6.24 trillion US dollars have already committed to divest. Prominent divestment supporters include Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

A warning from the Governor of the Bank of England

Fossil fuel investments are increasingly risky because action on climate change could render them worthless – creating ‘stranded assets’ that cannot be burned safely. These warnings have come from serious financial commentators including the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney.

Also last week, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, signed a joint letter with the Mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, calling on all cities to divest from fossil fuels.

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bambos with climate coalition membersBambos Charalambous MP signs the letter to the prime minister. Also shown (l-r) Harfiyah Ball Haleem, Christine Allen Dench (and daughter), Tony Sheen

Bambos Charalambous MP has signed a letter to the prime minister urging her to commit to bringing the UK's greenhouse gas emissions down to "net zero" before 2050.

The Enfield Southgate MP signed the letter at a meeting with representatives of the Climate Coalition's local interfaith delegation, made up of Harfiyah Ball Haleem from the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), Tony Sheen of CAFOD, Bill Linton of Enfield Green Party and Christine Allen from Christian Aid.

The letter to the prime minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Net Zero Emissions

We are writing to you to welcome the announcement that the Government will ask the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for advice on a net zero emissions target, with the aim of bringing our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target in line with the Paris Agreement.

Given the existing advice from the CCC, the likely conclusion of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and that other countries have set net zero targets with dates between 2030 and 2050, including France, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and New Zealand, we believe this must be a target of net zero for greenhouse gases before 2050.

British ingenuity, from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Dorothy Hodgkin, has kept the UK at the forefront of science and engineering for more than two hundred years. Setting ourselves the goal of net zero emissions will put us at the forefront of the race for investment in clean industries, creating jobs all around the UK and inspiring the next generation.

A net zero emissions target, fully implemented, will cut energy bills by improving the efficiency of our homes and businesses, it will get rid of the exhaust pipe emissions that pollute the air we breathe, and it will help to bring about the restoration of our natural habitats so they become stores of carbon, from forests to peatlands. We can have a greener Britain with cleaner air – and by making a clean break from harmful emissions, we’ll be sending a signal to our friends and allies around the world that Britain is shouldering our responsibility and leading the fight against climate change.

Thanks to the actions of Governments of many different parties, and the cross-party consensus that exists in the UK on the need to tackle climate change, since 1992 we have led the world in emissions reductions. We can continue in this proud tradition of leadership by becoming one of the first countries in the world to set a net zero target in law. A recent poll by Opinium shows that 64% of UK adults agree the UK should aim to cut its emissions to zero over the next few decades.

The Paris Agreement commits parties to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. In order to achieve this, we will support you in setting a before-2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, and hope that you will enshrine this in law within the lifetime of this Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Clarke MP, together with 112 MPs

The letter to the prime minister has so far been signed by 113 MPs from six different parties. The reference to "net zero" means greenhouse gas emissions will be cut to as close to zero as possible, and any remaining emissions will be soaked up from the atmosphere by, for example, planting more trees which absorb carbon dioxide gas from the air as they grow.

Commenting on the Climate Coalition's campaign, Bambos Charalambous said, “Climate change is the biggest long-term threat facing us and will hit the world’s poor the hardest. We need to call on British ingenuity and innovation to help find solutions to reduce our emissions and for the UK to play its part in the world, cleaning our air by cutting emissions to zero, restoring our natural habitats and valued places and in so doing storing carbon emissions from the air.”

The local Climate Coalition activists responded by expressing their delight that their MP has signed the letter. "Here in Enfield Southgate climate change is becoming an increasingly visible, tangible and urgent problem, with our parks and gardens drying up in the current heatwave, so it's great to see that our local MP has added his name to support stronger climate targets." They presented him with a personal cooling humidifier (typically, made in China) to remind him of their meeting and of the urgency of getting British industry to invest in manufacturing better quality, cleaner technology to cope with the effects of changing climate conditions.

The UK leads the world’s developed countries in growing its economy the most while also cutting carbon emissions (which cause climate change) faster than any other G7 nation, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK. Other countries have already set net zero emissions targets with dates between 2030 and 2050, including France, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and New Zealand. Last year China, the world’s largest investor in clean energy, invested $132.6bn in technologies such as solar power.

The letter to the prime minister coincides with the 10th anniversary of the British Climate Change Act, which received cross-party support and has been hugely successful in driving cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and growth in new clean energy industries. Investment in the sectors that will allow us to transition smoothly to an economy powered by clean energy have brought jobs and opportunity to towns and cities across the UK and continue to do so.

Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, which Britain signed in 2015 alongside 194 other countries, the UK is committed to keeping a global rise in temperature to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. In order to stop temperatures rising further we have to stop adding more greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and move quickly to renewable energy generation.

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scientists warning to humanity cropped
Enfield Green Party has issued the following warning. In the words of EGP press office David Flint, "THIS, not Brexit or Trump, or even austerity, is the great challenge of our time".

scientists warning to humanityThis year August 1st is Earth Overshoot Day, the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from the rest of nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. This date moves about three days earlier each year as our consumption, population and emissions increase. We are currently living as if we had 1.7 Earths, a 70% overshoot.

The dangerous realities of the situation were summed up in “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice".  In November 2017, over 15,000 scientists in 184 countries signed up to support this and over 5,000 more have signed since then.

The sign-up to this warning has now been opened to the wider public and to organisations. We in Enfield Green Party have signed this and we urge every person and every organisation that values our future to do so too. You can sign at www.scientistswarning.org/please-sign.

This is not a party-political issue. We are happy to work with others to promote public policies and private actions that will help us escape this escalating crisis. To be blunt, it will put problems caused by Brexit, hard or soft, in the shade. Recent forest fires are just the most recent wake-up call for the dangers we face.

In the face of this peril we need our best thinking and our most resolute leaders. Nothing less will do.

For more information and comment please contact Alex McRae, co-chair, Enfield Green Party, on and +44 7891 608938.

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A guest article by James Cracknell, written in response to Sadiq Khan's call for all London local authorities to divest their pension funds from fossil fuel companies

Divest Enfield

When it comes to environmental problems, shifts in attitude can happen incredibly quickly.

Diesel was once heralded by car companies as a 'green' alternative fuel to petrol and drivers for years were conned into buying vehicles that ran on it. Evidence now shows this was a huge mistake – and politicians have been fast to act. Diesel will soon be history.

Plastic waste has been a problem for decades, polluting water and choking wildlife. It has taken a regrettably long time for this problem to be recognised, but since shocking images of ocean plastic were seen by 13 million Blue Planet II viewers last year, political leaders have been falling over themselves to show that they want to put an end to the scourge of plastic packaging. A deposit scheme for plastic bottles will now soon be implemented.

And then we come to fossil fuel divestment. For years local authorities have carried on as normal, investing millions in companies that are directly responsible for man-made climate change. But we are starting to see a shift in public opinion. Last week, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan himself called on all local authorities in the capital to “join me in taking their pension funds out of companies that can damage the planet and lead to climate change”. The Greater London Authority is now leading the way, and it seems inevitable that others will follow, creating the same snowball effect we have seen on diesel and plastic.

Divest Enfield is calling on Enfield Council to ditch the £60million it has invested in fossil fuels via  its pension fund. Now, with the Mayor of London on our side, we will be emailing candidates for the forthcoming local elections on 3rd May to demand they sign the divestment pledge.

I have no doubt that in 20 years' time people will be shocked to know that local authorities like Enfield Council were investing millions of pounds in fossil fuels. In the year 2018, when countries around the world are feeling the affects of man-made climate change, it is simply indefensible that taxpayers' money could be invested in coal, oil and gas. It's now a question of if, not when, these investments are ended.

To sign our petition go to campaigns.gofossilfree.org/p/divestenfield and if you'd like to get involved in the campaign yourself email .

James Cracknell (@JollyJourno) is a journalist who lives in Southgate and was the initiator of the Divest Enfield campaign.

Links

Mayor calls for boroughs to ditch fossil fuel investment (Mayor of London press release, 26 March 2018)

Help persuade Enfield Council to divest from fossil fuels (Palmers Green Community, 6 January 2018)

Divest Enfield online petition

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