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Southwark Green: Looking ahead in 2021

Taking note of things which make you happy is a proven way to lift your spirits, whether it’s keeping a daily ‘gratitude journal’, or making a mental list at bedtime – a tasty meal, winter crocuses spotted on a walk, a phone call with a friend, writes Eleanor Margolies…

Does it work on a larger scale too? After a year of worry and sadness, we face continuing challenges in 2021. We need coordinated global action to stop the virus and, at the same time, we need to transform transport, homes and jobs to cut our out-of-control carbon habit. Here are three of the green shoots keeping me going in the face of these challenges.

Meat-free is easier than ever. In supermarkets and cafes, vegan options are now normal. You can even enjoy meat-free pie and mash from Manze or Arments in Peckham, Tower Bridge Road or Walworth. People of all ages are talking about reducing the amount of meat they eat, for their own health, for animal welfare or to cut the carbon bill from industrial farming. January – or #Veganuary – is the perfect month to try new ideas, with encouragement from other people via

Levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in central London fell by 44% between 2017 and 2020. This shows what can be done through measures like the Low Emission Zone and new, cleaner buses. But nitrogen dioxide is only part of the air pollution problem. There are no safe levels of ‘particulate pollution’ – tiny particles of fuel and tyre dust that lodge in the lungs – and levels in London are still way above World Health Organisation limits. Our next mayor should make sure that every dirty diesel bus in London is replaced, not just those on central routes. In 2021, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone will be extended to the South Circular – but why not include all of Southwark and extend it to the M25?

Batteries are better. A Southwark-based team has received a government grant to retrofit polluting black cabs. London has over 11,000 diesel cabs, each travelling on average 30,000 miles a year. Rather than scrapping old taxis, Clipper Cabs will install new electric motors and batteries – a cheaper and more efficient way for this London icon to meet the carbon challenge.


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