Updated climate plan clears latest hurdle

Published: Friday, March 4, 2022

Wandsworth’s updated plan to tackle climate change was this week approved by members of the council’s Executive 

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The Wandsworth Environment and Sustainability Strategy (WESS) sets out how the council will become carbon neutral by 2030, and how it will support residents and the borough as a whole to reduce emissions. 

The associated climate change action plan, which details how this will be achieved, is updated annually. The latest updated plan will now be discussed at next week’s full meeting of Wandsworth Council. If approved it will be formally adopted.  

Since 2005 carbon emissions from the borough as a whole fell from 1482 kilotons to 846 – a reduction of 42 per cent. In the same period the amount of carbon dioxide produced per person has fallen from 5.2 tons to 2.6 tons – a reduction of almost 50 per cent. 

Just under half of borough emissions come from the electricity and gas used in homes. Just over a quarter comes from transport and the rest comes from industry, business and the public sector. 

Progress in 2021 was strong. CDP, an internationally-recognised body for assessing how cities and companies are working to mitigate and adapt to climate change, raised Wandsworth’s mitigation rating for its carbon reduction work from B to A-. The council will work this year to enhance its work preparing the borough to adapt to climate change. 

There are three main areas of work: making the council itself a carbon neutral organisation, putting structures in place to ensure the borough as a whole can reduce emissions and working in partnership with local people and groups to take action and raise awareness.   

Solar panels on Wandsworth Town Hall

Becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030 

Wandsworth agreed a Decarbonisation Strategy for its operational buildings in September setting the roadmap for progress as an organisation. A programme to cut emissions from council buildings including youth clubs and leisure centres has started with 15 projects across nine sites including installing insulation, heat pumps, LED lighting and better-managed heating systems. This is expected to be finished by December. Going forward, a second phase of projects will focus on more retrofits, using technology to reduce demand and switching to greener energy.  

In addition: 

  • Work is being carried out on the council’s housing stock, including the development of a long-term retrofit plan. 
  • Sustainable Schools Framework will embed sustainability, energy-efficiency and carbon reduction throughout borough's schools, with a dedicated council officer providing support. Schools’ energy use will be audited and a procurement framework developed to support measures such as buying solar panels. 
  • In 2021 a greater proportion of the council’s fleet switched to electric vehicles and a dedicated group has been set up to push this work forward. For example, recently the council’s CCTV vehicles switched to electric. 
  • Social value environmental principles are now embedded into council procurement processes. In addition, new contracts focused on reducing emissions include the purchasing of zero carbon electricity and more efficient printers. Wandsworth has also been a leader including helping to develop sustainable procurement toolkits for other local authorities. 
  • Climate risk and decarbonisation are now embedded in the council’s pension fund with a significant switch from fossil fuels to sustainable investments. 
  • Council staff will start to receive Carbon Literacy Training during 2022/3 and guidance and advice for teams to assess climate impacts of projects will be further developed. 

 

Reducing the borough’s emissions and preparing for climate change 

  • Wandsworth is a committed to building a UK-leading electric vehicle infrastructure. It now has one of the most comprehensive networks of electric charging points of any local authority area. By April there will be 936 and the aim is to have 1300 by March 2023. An EV charging strategy is being developed to guide the long-term roll-out. 
  • A new Walking and Cycling Strategy is being drawn up including creating more school streets, installing more bike hangars and stands, promoting cargo bikes, improved pedestrian crossings and new cycling infrastructure. 
  • A new Air Quality Action Plan, which is closely linked to the WESS, includes improved public transport, facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, developing the EV infrastructure, reducing emissions from council buildings, closely monitoring construction sites and community-based projects.  
  • A new Biodiversity Strategy is working to protect priority habitats and species and a Sustainable Planting Plan is helping to create a ‘right plant, right place, right reason’ approach to planting. A new Tree Policy sets out how Wandsworth will manage existing trees and plant new ones. The planting of 700 trees for the 2021/22 planting system is almost complete. Biodiversity and tree action plans are being developed and a survey of all street trees carried out by March 2023 to inform future planting targets. 
  • Planning guidelines, including the new Local Plan, will have a strong focus on how planning can contribute to the WESS, including encouraging sustainable design and construction, supporting renewable energy, requiring car-free development in areas with a high degree of public transport and ensuring tree design and maintenance is considered from the beginning of the design process.  
  • The council will work with businesses to reduce their emissions. 
  • The results of the current food waste trial will be analysed and a new low-carbon waste contract developed. 
  • The council is support people to reduce emissions from their homes, including the Green Homes Grant and a group-buying solar panel scheme.  
  • Climate emergency and sustainability is embedded into the new Arts and Culture Strategy, including cultural events to raise awareness and engage with young people. 
  • The climate emergency will be addressed as a health emergency and a borough-wide analysis of climate impacts and vulnerabilities carried out to identify those most at risk. 

 

The Youth4Climate competition winners won a trip to Gravity in Southside

Communication, engagement and partnership 

The aim is to work as closely as possible with local people to bring about change together. 

  • Communication and engagement work has included the boroughwide Climate Change Festival held to coincide with COP26, with features 34 events across six days involving 542 residents. More people have engaged by watching videos of the events. 
  • Regular publicity including press releases, social media posts and Brightside articles highlighted what local people can do to mitigate climate change 
  • Climate officers have attended events such as the Happy Streets Festival and Roehampton Community Week to engage with local people. Place-based climate change engagement hubs will be developed. 
  • Regular meetings will be held with public sector partners to take forward shared priorities 
  • The Wandsworth Schools Climate Change Working Group brings together officers and teachers to help ensure young people learn about climate change. 
  • The Climate Conversations series will continue. This works with community groups across the borough to deliver sessions about carbon footprints and how we can work together to reduce emissions. 
  • Competitions, events and projects have been held with schools to raise awareness of climate change and bring young people into the conversation, including art project A Greener Picture, the Wandsworth Schools Climate Day and the Youth4Climate Competition. 
Cabinet member for climate sustainability Cllr Kim Caddy said: “I am delighted that the Executive have voted to approve this year’s action plan. We have delivered action to tackle climate change at a much faster pace than many local authorities. One of the keys to our successful progress has been getting council staff at all levels enthused by the plans and mindful of how their work can contribute to the WESS. 
 

Cabinet member for climate sustainability Cllr Kim Caddy said: “I am delighted that the Executive have voted to approve this year’s action plan. We have delivered action to tackle climate change at a much faster pace than many local authorities. One of the keys to our successful progress has been getting council staff at all levels enthused by the plans and mindful of how their work can contribute to the WESS. 

Local public sector leaders are discussing possible joint solutions