Getting Newcastle back on track as green city - or "greenwash" by Labour?

November 30, 2015 2:37 PM
Newcastle Liberal Democrats welcome the Labour-run Council's pledge to be a 100% green city by 2050, but the announcement needs to be put into context.

When the Lib Dems ran the Council, Newcastle was proclaimed greenest city in the UK two years running by Forum for the Future. When Labour took control in 2011, political commitment evaporated, responsibility became confused, and projects withered on the vine. The only green initiative of note has been the Cycling City programme - part of a national Lib Dem/Coalition Government scheme rather than a local idea. Otherwise we have had four years of drift.

There are two things I worry about the new pledge. First, why 2050 - in 35 years time? That goal is far too far in the future, we need action on our carbon emissions right now. Secondly, why did the pledge have to come from Westminster rather than the Civic Centre? A green energy and transport revolution requires leadership, and it doesn't bode well for local leadership if Labour senior councillors' arms had to be twisted by someone 300 miles away. It all smacks of greenwash.

In a week where crucial climate talks take place in Paris, Newcastle really needs to step up to the plate. Newcastle Liberal Democrats will be calling for robust action plans to make this rather hazy pledge a concrete reality.

Cllr Gareth Kane is the Opposition Spokesman on Environmental Issues for Newcastle Liberal Democrats