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“Portsmouth needs to do more to tackle climate emergency “ – states city MP

Friends of the Earth have produced detailed, local authority specific data for the ranking of councils across Britain on their record of tackling climate change.

Portsmouth has finished low down in the bottom quarter with just a 60% rating, putting it amongst some of the nation’s lowest-scoring. The data release coincides with national media coverage this week outlining how Portsmouth clean air charging zone is being scaled back.

Considering recent developments on the clean air zone, Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth is in the midst of an air pollution crisis that has been described by experts as ‘dangerous’. The fact that the centre of Portsmouth could become a chargeable clean air zone – rather than the whole of Portsea Island – is the manifestation of the Council Leader’s indifference to the matter.

We know as a result the 11,000 people in this city who live with heart conditions are at greater risk of stroke and heart attack and our children’s lung capacity is heavily reduced. We need a radical overhaul of the way we tackle air pollution, not this lack-lustre tokenistic gesture.”

City MP, Stephen Morgan has for some time been speaking out against the ‘reactionary’ approach taken by the city council to datel in tackling climate change locally and has cited the air pollution crisis as a testament to the current council administration’s indifference to the issue.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

The reason that the council is performing so poorly when it comes to tackling climate change is simple. The current administration is not taking the issue seriously enough.

The Lib Dems are presiding over an avoidable air pollution crisis, which has been allowed to reach highly dangerous levels and meant the Council Leader has subsequently gone to beg at the feet of Government for help.

We have some of the worst recycling rates, which is again one of the lowest in the country at 24%. There has been a failure to take any action over implementing a cycle hire scheme. We have some of the lowest tree coverage in the country. Our city really does deserve much better.

Climate Change is not something that you can shirk or avoid. These helpful findings from Friends of the Earth remind us again that the administration’s ‘dog ate my homework’ approach is not the bold attitude we need to address the biggest issue our city and our planet has ever faced. This report must now act as a wakeup call to the Council Leader to do better.”

In March Portsmouth Labour worked with community activists to force the council to declare a climate emergency. Since then, Labour councillors have been working hard to push the council into action.

The city MP added:

“It was the Labour Group, under my leadership, who pioneered the movement locally to declare a climate emergency. It was Labour who tabled the motion nationally to declare the same in Parliament.

Local authorities have an important and often over-looked role in cutting carbon emissions and solving the climate crisis. But they can’t do it all themselves, which is why I am pushing for more powers and finance alongside government action.

Since joining the shadow front benches, I have been visiting local authorities leading the charge when it comes to climate change to formulate party policy on best practice. In seeing these trailblazers, it made was apparent that Portsmouth must do so much more.

I will continue to put pressure on the government and council to place the climate emergency at the front of all decision making. Change starts at home”.