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Tackling the Climate Emergency - our journey to net-zero

Cllr Patrick Codd, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, writes about the progress we are making in delivering our Climate Emergency Action Plan

Lewisham Council is continuing to take bold action to tackle the Climate Emergency, with the borough of Lewisham now having the fourth-lowest carbon emissions per capita in the country. Over the last few years, we've switched our electricity supply to 100% renewable energy, retrofitted council buildings and local schools, planted 24,000 trees and secured millions of pounds in external funding to support this vital work.

We are proud to have a dedicated team responsible for implementing our Climate Emergency Action Plan and will continue to support officers from across the Council to understand how they can help our borough reach net-zero by 2030, whether they work in procurement, housing or our parks.

We understand the impact that climate breakdown is already having on the world and recognise that we have a duty to take appropriate action to prevent and adapt to these threats. We know that cutting carbon emissions brings health, wellbeing and economic benefits for our residents. Throughout the pandemic, our work on this has continued to be tireless even through such challenging and unprecedented times.

Lewisham was one of the first local authorities in London to declare a ‘climate emergency’ in 2019.

Our Climate Emergency Action Plan was agreed by Mayor and Cabinet in March 2020 and set out our ambition for the borough of Lewisham to be carbon neutral by 2030. Since then, Lewisham Council has also signed up to the UK100 “Net Zero Local Leadership Pledge”, alongside over 40 other local leaders, to reach zero carbon before national government.

There has been significant progress made by Lewisham in recent years and an update was given to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee this week.

Lewisham Climate Change achievements:

1. Lewisham switched to 100% renewable electricity to power our corporate buildings and schools.

2. Retrofitting improvements funded through our Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme projects will help towards making seven corporate sites and three schools net zero ready. As part of this, work is underway to install a Ground Source Heat Pump at Brockley Rise Adult Education Centre, one of the first public sector buildings in London to benefit from this innovative technology.

3. We have planted 24,000 trees and 700 new street trees.

4. In the last two years the Council’s fuel poverty advice service has given practical help to over 5,000 low income and vulnerable households. The Council secured £435,000 external funding in 2020/21 for fuel poverty advice services across South London.

5. The Council is delivering a new initiative to engage with landlords and enforce requirements to meet minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rental sector, targeting some of the least energy efficiency housing stock in the borough.

6. Lewisham worked with other boroughs and the Greater London Authority to promote a collective purchasing for solar panels helping 205 Lewisham residents sign up for cheaper prices from trusted suppliers.

7. 25 Lewisham Schools participated in Lewisham’s Schools’ Climate Conference during COP26 and a network of schools is being set up to support schools in their work to cut carbon emissions.

8. Lewisham’s Community Energy Fund supported 11 local community projects in schools and community organisations funding solar panels, lighting improvements and community engagement work.

9. The Council has successfully bid for over £5m external funding for carbon reduction, fuel poverty and flooding projects since March 2020.

10. Lewisham’s Pension Fund has switched to a new low carbon mandate moving funds into carbon positive investments. We’ve divested £800m away from fossil fuels and into low carbon investments.

11. We continue to engage proactively with our residents, setting up a mailing list for interested members of the public to receive updates on our climate emergency work and surveying people who live or work in the borough about what they felt our carbon reduction priorities should be. Last month, we launched the Lewisham Climate Conversation to encourage our residents to find practical ways to reduce their own carbon footprints.

12. In February 2021, the Council successfully bid for £825,000 funding under the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery, which will deliver insulation and window upgrades to 165 Lewisham Homes properties.

13. A new Parks and Open Spaces Strategy was produced, aligning how green and blue infrastructure in the borough contributes to achieving climate and wider environmental benefits.

14. Lewisham was Winner of the 2020 Community Tree Awards thanks to our team’s hard work with Street Trees for Living.

15 In 2021, Lewisham has gained a higher number of Green Flags for our parks and nature reserves than ever before.

16. In November 2021, Lewisham parks were named the very best in London in the Good Parks for London report.

17. The Council’s fleet of vehicles was upgraded to comply with highest standards of emissions.

18. We now have over 100 air quality monitoring sites across the borough.

19. We’ve launched the £1.3m Lewisham Greening Fund to support community groups to make improvements to local green spaces.

20. We’ve helped make it easier to cycle in Lewisham with 112 new cycle hangers.

21. Council event catering is now vegan, helping to reduce carbon emissions.

22. We have introduced 26 School Streets to support children to walk and cycle to school.

23. The Catford framework was agreed by Mayor and Cabinet in 2021 and aims to make Catford the greenest town centre in London.

24. We have increased the number of electric vehicle charging points across the borough.

25. During the pandemic, we have continued to recruit additional staff to our climate emergency team. We support officers in all teams across the Council to understand how they can help our borough reach net-zero.

We are proud of our many and varied climate achievements in Lewisham so far and look forward to the vital work and projects that we are committed to with our partners and residents, now and in the future, in order to achieve our critical target of being carbon neutral by 2030.

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