Council sticks to climate change targets despite Government’s Net Zero U-turn

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2023

Council leader Simon Hogg has confirmed that Wandsworth will be sticking to its climate change commitments despite the Government’s U-turn yesterday (Wednesday) on its Net Zero targets.

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Councillor Hogg says the council will maintain its focus on reducing carbon emissions and will carry on its work to become a carbon neutral council by 2030.

He said: “It was hugely disappointing to hear the Prime Minister announce a rowing back on the Government’s climate change commitments yesterday. His announcement flies in the face of the scientific consensus that urgent action is required immediately to reduce carbon emissions.

“We know just how important an issue this is for local people and their concerns about the dangers we all face from climate change. In Wandsworth we remain committed, more than ever, to taking action on climate change and striving to meet our own carbon neutral target by 2030. Boroughs like Wandsworth will continue to lead the way on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a better environment now and for future generations.

“The Prime Minister should be showing this kind of leadership instead of backtracking on these critically important environmental obligations. The Government may be reneging on its promises but we won’t be. We are sticking to the pledges we’ve made to cut our carbon emissions to zero as quickly as we can.”

Councillor Hogg’s assurances come just one day after the town hall published its new Air Quality Action Plan and set out how it will meet the recommendations of the Wandsworth Citizens’ Assembly on Air Quality.

The Citizens' Assembly was set up as part of the council’s commitment to use innovative ways to enable local people to set the tone and direction around responses to crucial borough-wide issues.

Assembly members presented their report in June and this has formed the basis of a new Wandsworth Air Quality Action Plan.

Air pollution locally has been falling but the plan sets ambitious new targets based on World Health Organisation definitions of dangerous levels of air pollution- which are more challenging than the UK targets currently used.

The plan also reflects the increasing need to respond to the climate emergency and the need to protect the health of local people – with emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable, including children.

Specific actions include rolling out an awareness campaign, creating a core cycle network across the borough, and supporting businesses with cargo bike deliveries. 

Delivery of the plan will be supported by a group of Air Quality Ambassadors made up of local people. They will help raise awareness of the dangers of poor air quality and what people can do to reduce their risk. They will also monitor progress and feed back to the rest of the borough.

Speaking at the launch of the Action Plan, Judi Gasser, Wandsworth’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Climate change and poor air quality affect us all and we all need to be involved in finding solutions. The Citizens’ Assembly has ensured the people of Wandsworth have a direct say in what happens in their borough and is part of a determination on the part of this administration to truly listen to local people and give them the power to participate in decision making.”