Merton Council’s Climate Strategy and Action Plan was approved at a meeting of Full Council on 18 November. The plan sets out the key actions necessary to reach the net zero carbon targets of 2050 for the borough and 2030 for the Council. These targets were set when the Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019.
The 30 year plan for the borough is spread across four thematic areas:
- Buildings and Energy – making homes and commercial property in the borough more energy efficient and switching to low-carbon forms of energy
- Transport – moving from cars and other polluting vehicles to low-carbon alternatives like walking, cycling and public transport
- The Green Economy – reducing emissions from the things we buy and sell by thinking about what we eat, how we use products and services, and how we avoid waste through prevention, recycling and re-use
- Greening Merton – becoming more resilient to the impacts of climate change, mitigating air pollution and increasing biodiversity with trees and green spaces
These themes were decided upon as a result of research commissioned by the council to look into the biggest sources of emissions in Merton. For each area, the council has set out clear actions that they will take, as well as actions that residents and communities, and businesses and organisations, will need to take in order to become a net zero carbon borough.
The plan also sets out how the Council is going to lead by example, and decarbonise its own operations by 2030.
The Council is encouraging all local residents and businesses to read the Climate Strategy and Action Plan to find out what action the council has planned, and what they can do to help reach the 2050 target. You can find the strategy at www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange.
The plan is the product of over a year’s work that included multiple consultations and stakeholder events. Much of the document was shaped by input from Merton’s Climate Emergency Working Group, a group of residents with specific interests and expertise in environmental matters.
In order to foster and support local climate action, the Council will be launching a Climate Action Group in January 2021. This will provide a framework to develop community-led projects that reduce Merton’s carbon emissions, where joint efforts are more effective than the actions of individuals or the Council alone. The Council will be inviting applications for community lead roles shortly.
Councillor Martin Whelton, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, said: “As a council we declared a climate emergency last year with unanimous cross-party support. We did this because it is an emergency, and action to tackle it cannot be put off any longer given the catastrophic threat to life.
“In combating this threat, we can take our own actions at a local level and the Climate Strategy and Action Plan sets out a roadmap for these local actions on how residents and businesses can play their part.
“The plan sets out a strong vision for a green, healthy, prosperous Merton by detailing the changes which can be made to heat and power our homes, transport, and to our economic activity. Doing this won’t be easy, but it’s entirely necessary to ensure that Merton remains a great place for families.”
Notes to editor
How can you get involved?
There are five key steps that residents and businesses can take to help meet the 2050 target:
- Get informed – There is a wealth of information available about what changes you can make to help combat climate change.
- Take up the challenge – Can you make changes in your home, your work, your travel, your purchases or your connection with others that will help?
- Join in with community action – Many local groups are working to make changes for the better in Merton and reduce carbon emissions. The Council will be launching a Climate Action Group in January 2021 to help develop community-led carbon reduction projects. Applications for community lead roles will open on Thursday.
- Help spread the word – In order to become a net-zero carbon borough, everyone working or living in Merton is going to need to play their part. You can help spread the word and get your friends, family and co-workers thinking about how they can reduce their carbon footprint.
- Lobby for change – Your voice with others can make change happen faster. Join with us to seek more funding and policy changes at a national level that will help Merton to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.
For more information on these steps, visit www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange
Information on the five themes
Buildings and Energy
According to the council’s research, energy used to heat and power buildings in the borough makes up around 81% of carbon emissions in Merton. It’s therefore vital to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the borough to reduce our energy demand, and maximise low carbon and renewable energy generation wherever possible. This will not only be good for our planet, but it will lower energy costs for households and businesses across Merton.
The use of petrol and diesel vehicles in the borough makes up 19% of Merton’s emissions as a result of the 600 million kilometres driven in Merton each year. Cars produce more carbon emissions than all other modes of transport put together. Emissions from buses, heavy goods and light goods vehicles also generate significant emissions. Therefore, we must move from cars to low-carbon alternatives like walking, cycling and public transport. Where private vehicle are necessary, we should look to use ultra-low emission options and shared ownership through car clubs. These changes will have a positive impact on the borough’s health, not only because of the increased physical activity, but also because of the reduced air pollution.
The Green Economy
Creating a green economy means reducing emissions from the things we buy and sell. To do this we need to think about what we eat, how we use products and services, and how we avoid waste through prevention, recycling and re-use. Carbon emissions generated from the goods and services consumed by Merton’s residents cannot be accurately estimated or tracked, but are likely to far exceed Merton’s other sources of emissions.
At 28%, Merton has one of the highest proportions of tree cover of any London Borough. Whilst our vegetation only captures a small fraction (0.1%) of Merton’s emissions each year, trees can still play an important role in improving our resilience to the impacts of climate change (such as overheating and flooding), absorbing air pollution emissions, and providing wildlife habitats which help maintain and increase biodiversity.
The Council’s 2030 Target
Over two-thirds of these emissions come from energy used in council buildings, but work will also focus on decarbonising the Council’s fleet, procured services and street lighting.