Merton Council is proud to be ranked joint second in London and among the top authorities across the country by Friends of the Earth for its climate change action, but recognises much more work must be done to avert a climate catastrophe.
New research by the global environment group, to chart the most climate-friendly areas in the country, gave Merton a performance rating of 80 per cent for work in response to the climate change emergency. Friends of the Earth assessed all councils in a number of categories including renewable energy, public transport, lift sharing, energy efficiency, waste recycling and tree cover.
In July, the council unanimously agreed to step up its commitment to combating carbon emissions and rising temperatures by declaring a Climate Change Emergency. Under the declaration the council pledged to achieve carbon neutrality for the whole of Merton by 2050 and to make every effort for the council to be a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.
Councillor Byers, the Cabinet Member responsible for the environment, said: “We’re delighted our work so far on climate change has been recognised by such a leading environmental organisation. However, we completely accept that we urgently need to ramp-up our efforts to help avert a catastrophe from extreme weather conditions. We’re taking action, but we can’t change things on our own.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from the community to our climate change emergency declaration, and many highly committed people with a vast amount of professional expertise have now come forward to be in our Climate Action Working Group. The group is now working on a plan to help us to meet our ambitious targets.
“Our climate change work for future generations also aims to make the borough a cleaner, greener and healthier place for our residents to enjoy now. Like Friends of the Earth, we also recognise, that while councils and communities working together play a vital role, we do need the Government to take bolder steps to ensure the whole country is carbon neutral by 2050.”
Merton Council has a long history of taking action to improve air quality and encouraging healthier lifestyles, dating back to the development of the Merton Rule in 2003. The council’s recent strategy, which has been in place since 2014, has already made a positive impact on reducing carbon emissions. Since 2009, the council, as an organisation, has cut harmful emissions from its work by 35 per cent.
The council is already taking a number of measures to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging residents to make more journeys by bike, foot or public transport. This has included the creation of including six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. In September, Merton Council hosted a Car Free Event in Morden and supported Play Street events across the borough by waiving the fee for road closures.
Work to support the switch towards more sustainable fuels includes the ongoing installation of charging points for electric-powered vehicles. Merton, which currently has 101 publicly accessible electric fast chargers operating, with another 36 expected to be installed by the end of 2019, is among the top boroughs in London for this expansion. Ongoing projects to help clean up the air includes action to ensure drivers turn off their engines while waiting outside schools.
The key areas of for action moving forward are set to be switching to low carbon energy sources in buildings, reducing car journeys, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, the consumption of sustainable products, green investment and the creation of green spaces across the borough.
Join us to tackle climate change and improve air quality, stay updated on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. For more information on how everyone can get involved visit the www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange.
Notes: Friends of the Earth sourced data by local authority area on a range of issues relevant to climate change to assess how councils are performing: https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/download/league-table-local-authority-performance-climate-change
The majority of data is from official government sources. To see the full methodology, go to: https://takeclimateaction.uk/climate-action/methodology-local-authority-data-project