People living in Southwark are ‘particularly vulnerable to climate change’, but the council cannot have ‘all the answers’, Southwark’s environment chief has said, as he announces a new Climate Change Summit to be held this year.
After declaring a climate emergency at the last Council Assembly, and committing to go carbon neutral two decades earlier than planned, the council now has to find a way to make these ambitious targets happen – but concedes many depend on successful lobbying of central government and business.
According to its own data, the council says it has already reduced its carbon footprint by 36.7 per cent since 2010.
Southwark has won plaudits for building new water fountains to cut plastic pollution, a focus on tackling toxic air pollution especially around schools, and putting new electric car charging points in the borough.
But how the council can accelerate its targets by two decades is still unclear and will require a groundswell of support.
Cllr Livingstone said: “The council is committed to doing all it can to address both climate change and carbon neutrality.
“With two-thirds of Southwark’s residents living less than ten meters above sea level, we are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
“We are already working to address this with a number of new measures including: idling fines for drivers who leave their engines running while static, road closures around schools to improve air quality, working to increase our recycling rate, which is the best in inner London, protecting Southwark’s biodiversity, helping more residents to walk and cycle rather than using their car, and more.
“But our decision last week recognises that there is much more that we need to do.
“However, climate change and carbon emission do not respect boundaries, this means that necessary, significant changes need to come from central government and big business.
“We recognise that we don’t have all the answers, which is why we’re organising a climate Change Summit for residents, local groups and other stakeholders this summer.
“Together, we will develop and deliver our plan.”
This week, one of London’s key city-wide initiatives to tackle emissions came into force – the ultra-low emissions zone, with Southwark on its periphery.