City Hall candidates debate climate issues

London Assembly candidates for Enfield and Haringey
London Assembly candidates for Enfield and Haringey, pictured clockwise from top left; Lib Dem Dawn Barnes, Green Party candidate Jarelle Francis, Labour’s Joanne McCartney, and Conservative Lee David-Sanders

Hustings event for the Enfield and Haringey London Assembly candidates took place earlier this month, writes Cath Paget, from Enfield Help the Climate

More than 100 people watched a hustings debate for the Enfield and Haringey seat on the London Assembly, ahead of next month’s City Hall elections, to hear what they will do to secure the strongest climate policies from the incoming mayor.

Gerry Robinson, a former headteacher in Haringey, chaired the online debate between the incumbent assembly member, Labour’s Joanne McCartney; Lib Dem candidate Dawn Barnes; Conservative candidate Lee David-Sanders; and Green candidate Jarelle Francis. 

All four candidates agreed that strong climate policies were needed across different areas and that the mayor, whoever it is come May, must be held to account to deliver a low-carbon London. Even on an issue such as reducing meat and dairy consumption, there was broad agreement between the candidates – something hard to imagine a few years ago.

Half of our carbon emissions come from people’s homes, and the candidates agreed that homeowners need more incentives to make homes more energy efficient, that government needs to make more funding available, and that renters need to be included.

Again there was support across the board for encouraging the shift to walking, cycling and public transport, as well as electric vehicles. On low-traffic neighbourhoods, a contentious issue in Enfield of late, the candidates all said that in principle they were a good thing but that local people – including disabled people – needed to be involved in designing them.

Candidates all shared concerns about the new Edmonton incinerator, saying it was not needed and that instead we should to reduce waste and increase recycling. Their fears were that a bigger incinerator would create an overcapacity and the project could become a “white elephant”.

On the performance of Sadiq Khan over the last five years, Joanne McCartney emphasised the good work that he had been doing, and the strong commitments in his manifesto, but said she was prepared to disagree with him and push him further.

Jarelle Francis criticised the mayor’s Silvertown Tunnel plans as an absurd project in a climate emergency and said that Green Party assembly members had been able to push the mayor to adopt stronger policies.

Lee David-Sanders said he’d be prepared to lobby for more government support and added that the meeting had helped open his eyes on some issues.

Dawn Barnes said the London bike hire scheme had originally been a Lib Dem idea and added that the party had a record in City Hall of working cross-party to secure change and better policies.

In closing the meeting, Gerry Robinson welcomed the strong support for climate policies across the board.

The meeting was organised by Friends of the Earth groups in Haringey, alongside Enfield Help the Climate, and was part of a city-wide campaign.

Joanne, Dawn and Jarelle had already signed the Friends of the Earth pledge to get tough climate policies for London and the campaign is supported locally by Enfield Roadwatch.