On 10 July 2019, we passed a motion to declare a climate emergency and set an ambitious carbon reduction target to make Merton carbon neutral by 2050. Over the coming months, we will also work towards decarbonising our own buildings and services by 2030.
News: Merton Council declares a climate change emergency
Update on the Council's developing Climate Action Plan
- Climate Emergency Working Group – The working group was formed in September 2019 to help develop the Climate Action Plan following the Council's declaration of a Climate Emergency. The working group comprises several sub-groups focussing on different thematic areas and has engaged with a number of relevant Council teams to help inform their recommendations for the Climate Action Plan.
- Internal Council Discussions – The Climate Change team has kicked off a work programme within the Council to consider the implications of the 2030 and 2050 target. For the 2030 target, work to date has considered actions to decarbonise the Council's fleet and buildings, approaches to integrate climate considerations in the Council's procurement policies and decision-making, and integrating the Council's climate ambitions into the Staff Travel Plan to reduce emissions from Council staff travel. For the 2050 target, we are considering how key policies and strategies, such as the Draft Local Plan, need to be amended in response to the Climate Emergency declaration. To help deliver the above, a number of teams, including public health, transport and Future Merton are working together to take advantage of some of the funding opportunities available. We have also supported a number of climate internships which have helped to maximise what our teams can achieve.
- Technical Consultant Support – the Council has appointed greenhouse gas specialists to provide technical support in developing a greenhouse gas inventory and decarbonisation pathways for Merton. A workshop was held with Council Officers and service providers in November 2019 to inform the scope of the Council's 2030 target.
- Engagement – We have engaged with a number of community groups including the Community Forums, Merton Partnership through the Sustainable Communities and Transport Partnership, and young residents through a youth scrutiny event on climate change. We have also been engaging with a number of other local authorities in London around the Climate Emergency to identify opportunities for knowledge-sharing and collaboration.
- Public Consultation – The Council launched two online surveys (for residents and organisations) from 28th October 2019 to 16th December 2019 to find out the views of Merton's residents and organisations. The consultation responses have been analysed and have been summarised in the report [Climate Survey Consultation Report], and will be used to inform the Climate Action Plan.
- The list of potential actions that have been identified through the online consultation, the Climate Emergency Working Group, Council teams and the technical consultant are listed [Merton Climate Emergency Consultation – Suggested Actions 2020-02-14].
- Climate Action Plan Stakeholder Workshop - On 26th February the Council held a workshop with around 70 attendees including members of the Climate Emergency Working Group, organisations, businesses, young residents, Council staff, councillors and major service providers. The purpose of the workshop was to provide stakeholders with an update on progress to date, to create a joint vision for Net Zero Carbon Merton, to help prioritise the actions for inclusion in the action plan, and to start developing some of the detail behind those actions. The consultants hired by the Council to provide technical support for the Climate Action Plan presented their early results in the workshop which identified the greenhouse gas emissions in the borough and the pace and scale of change needed to meet our net-zero carbon targets. Please see the workshop material and outputs here:
- Merton supported the Mayor's Solar Together programme, which received around 450 registrations from Merton residents and held a successful information session.
- The Climate Change team has also been helping to shape the Morden Town Centre regeneration project in line with the Council's climate goals. The Council was selected for the Foreground Programme run by the UK Green Building Council which focusses on informing and influencing the sustainability aspirations of strategically significant urban development projects. This involved a workshop with industry experts advising on low carbon solutions for Morden.
- We continue to work with the air quality team to encourage reduced car use, such as our support for the World Car Free day event in Morden in September.
Why have we declared a climate emergency?
The evidence is overwhelming. In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a
Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5˚C. The IPCC found that a 1.5˚C world would have significantly lower climate-related risks for natural and human systems than a 2˚C world, and that global CO2 emissions would need to reach net zero around 2050 in order to have no or limited overshoot beyond 1.5˚C of climate change.
The public are calling for action
We support the wave of public enthusiasm to bring climate change to the top of the agenda. School strikes, inspiring speeches from leaders of all ages calling for change shows the overwhelming message is that much more must be done to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
National, regional and local government are ready to act
The Mayor of London committed to making London a zero carbon city by 2050 in his
Environment Strategy. Most recently, the Prime Minister has committed the U.K. to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. Across London, the UK and the world, local authorities are declaring a climate emergency and setting targets to reduce carbon emissions. We have recognised our role in this challenge, and are embracing the call to action from Merton's residents, and have declared a climate emergency.
Sustainability and climate change have always been a priority for us. This declaration is a crucial step in achieving more carbon reductions in our operations, as well as inspiring and supporting more action across the borough.
What this means for Merton
The key sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Merton are road transport and domestic and non-domestic heat and electricity. We have direct control over a very small proportion of the borough's emissions (<5%) so making Merton carbon neutral by 2050 will require action from a range of stakeholders across the borough including local residents and businesses.
Becoming carbon neutral is no small task. The key action areas are likely to include:
Heat – improving the energy efficiency of our homes and work spaces to minimise energy use, and decarbonising the energy we use to produce heat by moving away from gas and towards local, low carbon and renewable energy sources;
Electricity – decarbonising our electricity supply by purchasing electricity from renewable providers, and maximising on-site renewable electricity generation and battery storage to manage peak electricity demand;
Transport – reducing the number of car journeys, replacing diesel and petrol cars with electric vehicles, and expanding the network of electric vehicle charging points accordingly;
Resources and waste – consuming sustainable and local products to limit greenhouse gas emissions from their production, transport and disposal, by consuming less meat and avoiding single-use plastic for example. Reducing waste generation by promoting the circular economy within the borough, and minimising greenhouse gas emissions from waste treatment processes;
Investments – considering how to ensure investments and procurements are low carbon, such as backing renewable technologies; and
Green space – enabling green space across the borough to capture carbon from the atmosphere.
Action from across Merton's community will be required in each of these areas to maximise greenhouse gas savings.
Climate Change Officers in the Future Merton Team - Future.Merton@merton.gov.uk