Greenwich Council is set to join a host of other councils in declaring a climate emergency months after campaigners were rebuffed top councillor. 

Pressure to join neighbouring boroughs and declare an emergency has mounted, with a petition started by the local Green party being backed by more than 400 people.

Campaigners say the Blackwall and proposed Silvertown Tunnel, paired with the new Ikea superstore and gridlock are damaging resident’s lungs.

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Despite previously stopping short of declaring an emergency at a meeting in February, environment cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald has now confirmed the council will be taking the step.

“Yes we are declaring a climate emergency, but declaring the emergency is just a small part in the battle against climate change,” the cabinet member said in a statement to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“What is actually important is that we recognise our role in responding to these difficult and complex challenges and take action to reduce our carbon footprint.

“That’s why the Greener Greenwich strategy, launched in 2016, outlines the action we are taking, involving looking at alternative low carbon energy supplies, making homes more energy efficient, modifying the way we travel, and securing high environmental standards in new developments.”

Cllr Scott-McDonald said the council has “many schemes in place” and is enabling more people to walk, cycle or use public transport to combat poor air quality.

The cabinet member said air quality is being improved near schools through the council’s school streets programme and more electric charging points for cars are being installed.

The U-turn comes in the wake of controversial protests across London by environmental campaigners Extinction Rebellion.

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Several hundreds of protesters took the streets across the capital in the last week calling for politicians to take action to improve the environment.

The demonstrations have lead to some arrests and criticism from officials that campaigners are hampering the city’s economy.

Locally, Extinction Rebellion Plumstead joined the lobbying efforts of the Greens to have an emergency state declared.

A spokesman for the Greenwich Greens said: “This is beyond political parties and an issue of such urgency that we feel it needs working on with all parties in Greenwich, and should include a citizens assembly to bring ideas and actions to the table.”

A spokeswoman for Greenwich Extinction added: “We are delighted they are calling an emergency. We can now engage with them in what we want to see in the action plan.

“We aren’t about telling people how to live their lives but about how we educate them. We think the way to do this is a people’s assembly and take part in the democratic process.

“We really need to make the council understand the urgency behind it, it’s about the core changes and we have to do it for our children. That’s what inspiring us.

“Hopefully now they can put pressure on central government now.”