We have set an ambitious target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Our emissions

We are responsible for around 2% of Merton's carbon emissions. These mainly arise through the use of electricity, gas and diesel in the council's buildings, community schools, streetlights and vehicle fleet. Other activities such as staff travel, and procured services carried out on behalf of the borough are harder to measure but are nevertheless important sources of emissions that we are seeking to reduce.

The table below shows the results of our latest 2021 greenhouse gas inventory for the council.

Source Council emissions 2018

Buildings (gas)

4.5 ktCO2e - 49% of emissions

Buildings (electricity)

1.8 ktCO2e - 20% of emissions

Procured services

1.7 ktCO2e - 20% of emissions

Street lights

0.6 ktCO2e - 7% of emissions


0.4 ktCO2e - 4% of emissions

9.0 ktCO2e in total, accounting for 2% of borough emissions.

Since the publication of our first climate strategy in 2009 (which was replaced by a second climate strategy in2014), emissions from the council's buildings and vehicle fleet have reduced by around 40%.

Buildings and energy

We have taken important steps towards reducing carbon emissions and energy bills from the council's building stock and street lights over the last decade, by investing in measures that reduce energy use and generate local, low carbon energy. Our next major task is to achieve buildings with net-zero emissions by further improving the energy efficiency, replacing gas heating with low carbon alternatives and maximising locally produced renewable energy.

Reducing emissions from power

Our approach to reducing carbon from electricity used in the council's buildings is to use electricity efficiently where possible, to produce local renewable energy and switch to a low carbon electricity supply.

100% renewable energy supply

Since 2019 the council has been purchasing Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) where budgets allow, which certify that a portion of the electricity used is from a renewable source. In some years we have been able to purchase REGOs to cover 100% of our electricity usage. Overall, this means that electricity purchased by the council is very low carbon.

Street Lights

Merton has made one of the largest efficiency savings across London boroughs through a long running LED replacement programme. 80% of lamp columns now use highly efficient LED bulbs. LEDs will continue to replace standard bulbs until all streetlights are efficient.

Solar photovoltaic (PV)

2MWp (MWp, the rate at which they generate energy at peak performance) of solar panels have already been installed on 44 Council-owned buildings, including a number of schools. These panels feed green electricity into the buildings on which they are installed and the excess power flows to the grid.  

Reducing emissions from heating

Natural gas for heating and cooking is the largest source of council carbon emissions and presents one of the hardest challenges to decarbonising Merton's estate. To date, we have installed trial heat pumps at 2 sites and 2 combined heat and power (CHP) systems in Merton Civic Centre and Morden Leisure Centre which reduce the sites’ emissions through efficient generation of heat and power together

The next step is to consider how to replace natural gas heating throughout the council’s estate with low carbon alternatives such as heat pumps. This work has begun through building surveys as we develop an estate-wide approach.

Reducing emissions from vehicles

Vehicles owned by us are used to transport vulnerable adults and children and to conduct council business. Some staff use their own vehicles in their duties on behalf of the council. We currently have one electric and two hybrid vehicles, and offer staff the opportunity to use electric or standard pool bikes for work trips and support the cycle to work scheme.

Reducing petrol and diesel vehicle use

We are considering how to reduce the use of powered motor vehicles and move towards ultra-low emission alternatives, through technical advice from the Energy Saving Trust and through updated staff travel policies.

Reducing emissions from procured services and investments

Procured services

Our latest procurement strategy highlights our intention to require suppliers and contractors to reduce the negative environmental impact of goods, works and services by considering whole life costs; ending our use of single use plastics; and reducing the carbon impacts associated with goods works and services. As well as working collaboratively with existing providers to reduce emissions, we will review policies and guidance to get the best outcome to reduce carbon emissions whilst retaining good value for money.

Responsible investments

We are the administering authority for the Merton Pension Fund and the largest employer of the Fund. The pension fund's primary objective is to ensure a stable employer contribution level and to ensure the fund pays benefit to those drawing their pension. The fund also takes into account environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as a key element of its investment strategy.

The fund has incorporated ESG into its investment process for some time now and, in particular, since 2018 the fund has been measuring the carbon footprint of its investments. More detail can be found by accessing the Pension Fund Annual Report 2020-21 and Investment Strategy Statement 2020.