Tackling food waste, switching to greener energy, and a tree planting strategy to increase the borough’s canopy are some of the key priorities set out in Richmond Council’s first Climate Emergency Strategy update.
Significant progress has been made by the Council in the year since the Climate Emergency Strategy was published, despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has posed to climate initiatives around the world.
In the past year, Richmond Council has transitioned to using only energy from renewable sources such as wind farms and solar panels. The Council has also continued working to support the natural ecology of the borough in line with the borough’s Biodiversity Action Plan. This has included establishment of a nursery for the endangered and rare black poplar clone trees on Barnes Common, in partnership with the Friends of Barnes Common, and securing funding from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, which will see 123 trees planted in areas where canopy cover is less than 20%.
The Council took part in the Carbon Disclosure Project for the first time, which rates local authorities on climate emergency work, and achieved a B rating. This is a positive achievement for an initial appraisal, acknowledging the Council has identified the risks and impacts of climate change and is taking action, including working collaboratively with key stakeholders.
Other commitments delivered include:
- Publishing the Active Travel Strategy to support residents to walk and cycle safely
- Creation of a Decarbonisation Strategy to reduce carbon emissions for Council buildings
- The continued roll-out of electric vehicle charging points to a total of 369 across the borough
- £1m of Green Homes Grant funding secured from the government to help residents reduce the emissions of their homes
The Council has also confirmed its latest carbon emissions data, showing an overall decrease in emissions of 6.92% from 2018/19 to 2019/2020 and a decrease of 15.45% from 2017/18 to 2019/20.
An update to the Climate Emergency Action Plan was presented to Richmond’s Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Committee last night (Wednesday 17 February). As well as reviewing activity delivered over the past year, it sets out the priorities for 2021, including:
- Putting the climate emergency at the heart of the development of the borough’s new Local Plan
- Developing and implementing the plan for Council vehicles to be zero-emission
- Supporting residents to improve their household carbon footprint through supporting Solar Together London, a solar panel group-buying programme, and continuing to deliver the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme
- Launching Carbon Literacy training for Council staff so the climate emergency can be prioritised by all Council services
- Expanding food waste collection service to all suitable flats
- Supporting businesses to invest in sustainable solutions such as e-cargo bikes
- Identifying areas that could be naturalised or could be used to create new meadows in parks
Councillor Julia Neden-Watts, Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Committee, said:
“When we published our Climate Emergency Strategy last year, we resolved to put the environment at the heart of local decision making.
“We have taken significant steps towards achieving this, as well as supporting residents to reduce their own emissions, in particular with the delivery of our Active Travel Strategy and the Green Homes Grant Scheme.
“However, in addition to the climate emergency, we have faced the challenge of COVID-19. Some of our climate emergency work was disrupted as we focused on helping residents to protect themselves from the virus, but we have continued to deliver key actions and made good progress in reducing our carbon emissions and supporting climate emergency action across the borough.
“The pandemic has posed new environmental challenges and opportunities by changing how our lives are lived; in some cases, this has made it harder to maintain positive habits to reduce personal carbon footprints such as using more sustainable travel modes or avoiding single-use products and packaging.
“We have achieved a lot in the last year, given the circumstances, but we know that there is more to be done. Our target of being carbon neutral as an organisation by 2030 requires us to step up our actions. If Richmond as a borough is to play its full part in tackling the climate and ecological emergency, we need to support residents in reducing their climate impact as we move into recovery from the pandemic.”
– from a Richmond Council press release - 18 February 2021