Southwark Council’s very first Climate Change Summit

1 July 2019

Southwark’s very first Climate Change Summit, brought together national organisations, local people and experts, to talk about how Southwark can work towards carbon neutrality, in support of the council’s new Climate Change Emergency commitment.

Southwark's sustainability summit marks the start of the Mayor of London’s  very first London Climate Action Week, 1-8 July. It took place at the council offices on Tooley Street and will help to form a basis for the council’s carbon neutrality planning.

The summit brought together an extraordinarily broad range of individuals and organisations, from local residents, businesses and activists, to national organisations like Greenpeace, the IPPR and a representative from central government.

Cllr Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and the Climate Emergency, outlined the council’s action to date and opened discussions about potential, impactful actions, moving forward. He also sought commitments from everyone gathered, to work towards achieving carbon neutrality in Southwark.

Patrick Allcorn is the Head of Local Energy, at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He explained that although the responsibility for managing the climate emergency falls to the government, many local authorities are already making bold and innovative changes.

He talked about the challenges of Britain’s aging housing stock, the financial pressures on local councils and the need for everyone to understand the problem and adjust their behaviour, in order to achieve carbon neutrality.

Luke Murphy, from the IPPR, talked about the race against time to tackle global warming, and the cost of not taking action. He also explained that the poorest and most vulnerable people are often the worst affected by climate change, yet the least culpable. Luke closed by outlining the need for leadership, vision and resources, he said that although we don't need all answers now, we do need to start with the policy.

Councillor Richard Livingstone said: “We are overwhelmed and heartened by the phenomenal interest in our summit, so many local people came forward and wanted to be involved.

“No organisation or individual can achieve carbon neutrality alone, so we very much need the support and engagement of local residents, businesses, activists and central government, in order to achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

“It was really helpful to hear from so many different voices today and we have a number of new ideas to take away and develop. But, this is very much the beginning of our journey, and I hope to continue working with everyone involved with the summit. I would also like to invite others to come forward and see how we can learn from one another, spread the message and instigate necessary change.”

Blue sky thinking was encouraged during the workshop sessions. Here are some of the suggestions put forward:

  • using experts to move carbon reduction forward faster
  • being  clear about what the council can't do, and getting those who can, to up their game
  • ban all cars from Southwark - excluding disabled and electric
  • install more green walls at schools and introduce plants to business environments
  • put pressure on big supermarkets to stop using low grade plastics
  • use street design to prioritises pedestrians and cycling
  • hold regular car free days, to help people explore other ways to move about the borough

The council will host a public meeting to look at its draft Carbon Reduction Strategy, which will be informed by today’s summit, in the autumn. More details to follow. 

Page last updated: 01 July 2019