Extinction Rebellion protest spotlights air pollution in Wandsworth

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Wandsworth gathered at Clapham Junction on Saturday to raise awareness about air pollution in the borough.

The protest was part of their “Wake Up Wandsworth” campaign, as they allege that the council has been inactive since the climate emergency it declared in 2019.

The campaign launched in April, when four demands for addressing the emergency were pasted on Wandsworth Town Hall’s doors as protesters declared themselves to be in open rebellion against Wandsworth Council.

Four out of ten of London’s worst air pollution hotspots are in Wandsworth, and the first of XR Wandsworth’s demands towards the council is to reduce air pollution to legal levels by May 2022.

XR Wandsworth activist Caroline Hartnell said: “We look forward to sharing the council’s successes – and will not hesitate to share their failures – with the electorate, using local press, social media and any other means necessary to ensure we reach every household in the borough.

“The key issue is that buy-in from local residents is needed, and policies are seen as fair and necessary. This is why XR Wandsworth is demanding a Citizens Assembly be called to consider how to reduce air pollution.”

The protest ended with a broadcast via loudhailer of the facts about air pollution in the borough, greeted with a response of “Wake Up Wandsworth”.

Child buggies painted white, which the protesters referred to as ‘Ghost Buggies’, displayed messages about the dangers of air pollution such as: “Toxic Air, No Thank You” and “Help A Child Live”.

Protesters called for residents of the borough to reduce car usage and rely more on cycling, walking and public transport when travelling.

Hartnell added that the council should support Wandsworth residents to make fewer car journeys.

It is estimated that air pollution is responsible for around 36,000 premature deaths annually in the UK, and up to 9,400 in London.

Extinction Rebellion protest at Clapham Junction
WAKE UP WANDSWORTH: XR protestors responded to facts about air pollution with a demand for the borough to wake up

A council spokesman said: “The council is implementing a vast range of measures to help us achieve our ambitious target of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.

“This includes action to green our vehicle fleet and our pension fund, plant thousands of new trees, explore food waste recycling, support the switch from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles and introduce energy efficiency measures in our housing blocks.

“Our efforts to date have been positively highlighted in an independent report produced by University College London which evaluated councils on their ability to lower carbon emissions. 

“This report placed Wandsworth third out of all councils evaluated, ahead of Oxford, Nottingham, Sutton, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

“The report’s authors recognised that we are delivering real action against our climate change commitments and judged us to be out-performing other local authorities.”

The remaining three of XR Wandsworth’s demands concern trees and green spaces, food waste collection and divestment from fossil fuels.

The trees and green spaces demand comes during the occupation of York Gardens, where around 100 mature trees are to be felled by Wandsworth Council and housing developers Taylor Wimpey.

Related Articles