Southwark Council publishes roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2030

13 July 2021

Southwark Council celebrates the publication its roadmap to become a carbon neutral borough, with children and staff from one of its highest achieving, active transport awarded schools. Cllr Helen Dennis joined children and staff from John Ruskin Primary to find out how they made walking, cycling and scootering an attractive option and improved biodiversity and the environment around their school.

Southwark’s new strategy sets out ways in which the council, residents and organisations across the borough can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the next decade, responding to the climate emergency which threatens our planet and our future through increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

Southwark Council’s sustainable travel team has helped John Ruskin Primary to develop their School Travel Plan and achieve gold accreditation within the TfL STARS scheme. The council also worked with the school to agree pavement widening outside and on the approach to school the gates. This creates more space for parents and children to walk to school and reduces the danger of motor traffic outside school. The council completed the pavement widening work in June 2021.

The council has already taken steps to reduce carbon emissions from its own operations. From 2008, the council has reduced its own carbon by 36.7 per cent through measures such as investing in LED lighting and shifting to 100 per cent renewable electricity for all of its offices and buildings. It has also taken action across to reduce emissions across the borough to support active travel and boost recycling rates.

Following a period of listening and consultation, this new roadmap focuses on five themes that are essential to achieving a Carbon Neutral Southwark by 2030: Greener Buildings; Active and Sustainable Travel; A Circular Economy with Green Jobs; Thriving Natural Environment; and Renewable Energy. The strategy sets out how the council plans to deliver in each of these areas and the scale of the challenge it faces. Among other things, the plans outlines the council’s plan to create 5000 green jobs over the next decade.

The strategy is underpinned by analysis of current carbon emissions, which shows that the Southwark Council is directly responsible for 12 per cent of emissions in the borough, with a significant proportion generated from its large social housing stock. The council has already begun to pilot innovative solutions, installing water source heat pumps on three of its estates, and piloting low carbon ‘passivhaus’ standards in its council house-building programme.

However, the scale of investment that is required for greener buildings is vast. It will need significant government funding, including through a Green Homes Investment Fund. Across all five themes, analysis commissioned for the council estimates that £3.92 billion is required in Southwark alone.

The strategy also underlines the importance of partnerships to reduce carbon emissions across the borough, working with community groups, businesses, faith groups, schools and other large organisations in Southwark to build a strong coalition for a just transition away from fossil fuels. The document also sets out the council’s plan to hold an annual conference, produce an annual progress report and to establish a ground-breaking citizens’ jury; a group of people, representative of the borough’s demographics. They will be invited to conduct additional in-depth analysis of climate change and make a series of recommendations to council cabinet members. The citizens’ jury will be recruited over the summer.

Cllr Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development, said: “It was inspirational to see what the children and staff at John Ruskin Primary have achieved in their journey to becoming more sustainable.

“We too have made inroads into reducing our impact on the future of our planet and accept the imperative role that all local authorities have to play in addressing the Climate Emergency. I’m incredibly proud of our ambitious new strategy which sets us on the path to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, playing our part in combating the global temperature rise and preventing catastrophic climate change.

“Building on the work undertaken to date, we will continue to lead by example and put tackling inequality at the heart of our plans. But, we know that we cannot do this alone. Change at this scale requires partnerships and action at all levels, from residents, businesses, other large organisations in our borough, and community groups. It will also require decisive action and investment from central government, to support the transition towards greener homes, renewable energy and more active and sustainable travel.”

Tacking the Climate Emergency Together – Our Strategy for a Carbon Neutral Southwark by 2030.

Page last updated: 13 July 2021

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