Climate Change Emergency Is Declared By Merton Council

Cross-party agreement to take action in conjunction with residents and businesses

A Climate Change Emergency has been declared by Merton Council as part of a cross-party commitment to combating carbon emissions and rising temperatures.


The motion, signed by the four Group leaders and moved by Councillor Tobin Byers, Merton Council’s cabinet member responsible for health and the environment, was passed unanimously at a recent council meeting.


It called on the Council to declare a climate emergency and to develop an action in conjunction with businesses and residents to decarbonise the borough.


The council has committed to take a leadership role and join forces with the community to achieve carbon neutrality for the whole of Merton by 2050. The target is in line with advice given by the Government’s Committee on Climate Change and the Mayor of London’s ambitions.


Under the declaration the council has also pledged to make every effort to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. The council’s actions will involve work to reduce and decarbonise the energy used in all its 340 buildings, transport and contracted out services.


Merton council has been working to reduce its emissions for some time, and says it has cut them by 35% since 2009.


Residents, businesses and organisations are being urged to give their views on the priorities for the council’s climate change work and volunteer to be in the council’s Climate Emergency Working Group, which is to be formed. The group is to advise on the development of the council’s Climate Change Action Plan.


The key areas of action 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.


The declaration also recognises that the Government needs to take bolder steps to ensure the country can be carbon neutral by 2050, to protect the planet for future generations.


The cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment Councillor Byers, said: “The evidence on the impact of global warming is now undeniable. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented. I am delighted that the motion was supported by all four parties and was passed unanimously.


“We know climate change will impact negatively on the well-being of residents and the local economy. We must take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees centigrade, if we want to avoid the worst case scenarios extreme weather will bring.”


The council is already taking a number of measures to reduce carbon emissions from car journeys. Measures have included encouraging residents to enjoy making more sustainable trips by foot, bicycle or public transport and the ongoing installation of charge 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 include to help clean up the air includes action to ensure drivers turn off their engines while waiting outside schools.


Councillor Byers, said: “Merton Council has a long history of taking action on climate change, dating back to the development of the Merton Rule in 2003. Our most recent strategy, which has been in place since 2014, has already made a positive impact at reducing carbon emissions. However it is now imperative that this work is now stepped up and an action plan to meet the challenges we face is created.”


“The council has the responsibility to take a leadership role in tackling climate changes. However, as 97.5% of emissions within the borough come from the buildings we work in and the vehicles we drive, the majority of which are outside our direct control, everyone has an important role to play. This is why we are setting up a working group which will actively involve residents and businesses.”


A Climate Change Emergency action plan is to be developed and presented to the council in early 2020. The council is set to launch an online survey and undertake engagement with residents.


Pictured above from left: Merton Conservatives Leader Councillor Nick McLean, Merton Council Leader Councillor Stephen Alambritis, Merton Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Anthony Fairclough and Merton Park Ward Independent Residents’ Group Leader Councillor Peter Southgate.

July 11, 2019