Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

A Call to Action for a Green Tameside

Friday, 16 November 2018

Imagine for one moment there was a killer on the loose in Greater Manchester. A killer responsible for deaths of 1,200 people every year, who went out of their way to prey on the most vulnerable, the old and the sick, and who has never been caught. Imagine the fear and the outrage we’d live with, and imagine what we’d do to make sure that they were brought to justice.  

We don’t need to imagine such a killer, because it already exists. The killer is the very air we breathe, and the question we all have to ask ourselves now is what do we do about it?

Part of the problem is that air pollution is very much a silent killer. Very few people die from breathing polluted air itself. They die from respiratory problems, cancers and heart or lung diseases brought about or worsened by breathing polluted air. The other part of the problem is that so many of the things responsible for air pollution are deeply embedded into the way we go about our modern lives. To give an example, one of the major elements of air pollution is nitrogen dioxide, which is largely caused by road traffic.

But air pollution is not the only environmental issue we face. It’s recently been revealed that micro plastics such the ones found in the River Tame in March have now been discovered in human waste for the first time, proving that plastic pollution may be widespread in our food chains. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has also reported that our window for keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees, and preventing the truly catastrophic repercussions this would entail, has now shrunk to less than a dozen years.

These aren’t things that we have the luxury of time to deal with; we need to take serious action here and now. This is one area where devolution in Greater Manchester is making a real difference. In March the Greater Manchester Green Summit was launched, bringing together everybody with an interest in protecting our shared environment.

That Green Summit, bringing the issues of sustainability and the environment to the forefront of the public debate, was a powerful call to action for us all. Last week, we took the next step by deciding how Tameside will answer that call. At the first ever Tameside Green Summit, held in Dukinfield Town Hall on Tuesday 6th November, we heard from a number of prominent experts and academics, including Kevin Anderson from Manchester University, Brian Deegan from Urban Design, representatives from IKEA and the Greater Manchester Environment Portfolio Lead, Cllr Alex Ganotis. I was also particularly impressed by the powerful round ups of the day from Emily and Jacob, two members of Tameside’s Youth Council. These were the voices of the next generation – the young people who would ultimately live with the consequences of what we do, or fail to do, to protect our environment and climate.  

With their guidance and inspiration, we came together to pledge, in our own ways, what we could all do in Tameside. Even the smallest pledges, if done by enough people over a long enough time, have the potential to build up to a massive collective difference in reducing Tameside’s carbon footprint.  As might be expected, clean air was a prominent theme, but we also saw pledges on everything from cycling to work, to planting more trees, to reducing our use of plastic, especially single-use plastics, wherever possible. The message we left people with was simple; do what you can, do it in the way that best fits for you, but do something.

I have no doubt that we will build on the success of the Tameside Green Summit. We know that we can’t solve everything immediately, but we have started laying the foundations and creating the relationships needed to take meaningful and effective action on protecting the environment, cleaning up our air and promoting healthy and sustainable living. The road to change is likely to be long and difficult, but last week has shown that we are all up for the challenge.  

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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