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Conservatives Slam Barnet Council Net Zero Citizens Assembly

Barnet Council’s opposition group has slammed the authority’s latest environmental campaign as generating “yet more hot air”.

The Labour-run council this week launched BarNET ZERO, a new borough-wide campaign to help Barnet become one of London’s most sustainable boroughs.

It says the campaign was designed to bring residents, communities, and businesses together, through advice, information and support.

Councillor Daniel Thomas, leader of the Conservative Group, said the council had set itself a target to be ‘net zero’ by 2030 while under Conservative control, and he welcomed Labour – which took control after May’s local elections – continuing with this.

But he took aim at plans for residents to discuss suggestions in the first ‘Citizens Assembly’ and ‘Young People’s Assembly’ in February.

Cllr Thomas continued: “Many of the net zero workstreams were started by the Conservatives, but the so called ‘citizens assembly’ will be an expensive talking shop generating yet more hot air. We believe the money should be spent on something tangible instead, such as planting more trees or fixing the many potholes across the borough.”

The campaign follows the Labour council announcing a climate emergency at last year’s Annual General Meeting.

Conservative councillors voted the subsequent motion to declare a climate emergency down on the grounds that “the borough was already pursuing green policies”.

The campaign’s goal is to lower the volume of carbon the borough emits to equal, or below, the volume it removes from the atmosphere. The borough produces 1.76 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

In May 2022, the council also set the target of becoming a Net Zero borough no later than 2042.

Barnet Council has been asked for its response to the Conservative criticisms.

Announcing the BarNET ZERO launch, a Barnet Council spokesperson said: “We all need to work together to become one of London’s most sustainable boroughs, and we can only do that if we all play our individual part within it. Everyone can do something, and every small step will take us on the journey to becoming Net Zero.

“We are committed to supporting residents, businesses and communities make sustainable choices wherever they can, and our dedicated BarNET ZERO website provides more information on other steps you can take.”

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