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Agenda item

Climate Emergency

Katie Holder, Climate Change Officer


Katie Halter, Climate Officer for Merton Council informed residents about the Climate Emergency unanimously declared by the Council in July.


The declaration requires the borough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Data from National Statistics indicate that Merton was responsible for emitting over half a million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018. Gas (50%) and electricity (25%) used in Merton's buildings, and the use of petrol and diesel transport (25%) were mainly responsible. The amount of greenhouse emissions could potentially double if you include emissions that arise from good purchased in the Borough, or activities by Merton by residents outside the borough, such as flying.


There are three specific commitments in declaration

  1. Specific dates to reduce emissions – Merton Council carbon neutral by 2030; the borough as a whole by 2050.
  2. Create a Climate Emergency Action Plan by March 2020
  3. Create a Climate Emergency Working group to gather evidence and ideas, which will contribute to the formation of the Action Plan.


The targets are challenging, it means 12% annual reduction to achieve this, which implies the decarbonisation of around 3000 properties improved a year and 2,500 of the 72,000 petrol and diesel cars registered in Merton will need to be replaced by electric or active travel per year. Merton Council responsible for 2.5% of emissions, the rest are from homes and businesses in the borough.


For more information on the Climate emergency declaration, please see:


Katie set out how residents could get involved

  • Individual choices are critical – especially energy use, diet, and travel. Sustainable Merton has a helpful checklist
  • Community Projects – the Council would like to support setting them up or hearing about them
  • Climate action plan – please get involved in the consultation on the action plan when it begins in October, we welcome new ideas
  • Solar Power Together – run by Mayor of London – they have vetted solar panel providers through collective bargaining power. Depending on how many sign up they will agree a supplier who will conduct a survey and agree a final price. Last year got 35% discount and they had good feedback on installations.  
  • Climate protests help move national policies have a huge impact so welcome pressure on politicians


A resident asked about Heathrow expansion plans, Cllr Alambritis said the Council was against expansion and had written to say so in response to the recent consultations.


Residents asked about changing cars to electric. Katie said that there are grants available for purchasing electric cars and studies show that to be carbon neutral removing cars/vehicles is essential, as is household energy use.


A resident said that moving St Helier’s acute facility will result in more emissions including additional ambulance movements. Katie said they are working with Public Health estates group on how they can reduce emissions but majority of emissions come from cars rather than other sources like buses, ambulances, and HGVs.     


A resident asked about engine idling and Katie said that the Air Quality Action Plan has already looked at this and we will be looking to see if we need to integrate some of those actions into the new climate change plans.


Katie also said that the action plan will focus on reducing emissions as much as possible but in some cases where this is too difficult or too expensive there may be a need to offset through activities like planting trees. Trees need to grow into maturity in order to lock in carbon, so welcome ideas to support tree maintenance. Katie explained that human exercise does not result in a net increase in emissions.


There was also a question about buses, and Katie responded that TfL have a plan to electrify all buses and we will encourage them to convert buses in Merton as soon as possible.


A resident said that the UK was not generating a big amount of emissions compared to bigger countries. Katie said that the UK produces 450m tonnes a year, and it is a high per capita production. We need to take personal responsibility and can’t leave to others to take actions.


Katie said that if you install solar panels it would cost roughly, £3-4k for a 3-bed semi and generally the return is about 10 years.

UPDATE following the meeting: Residents can get involved by completing a survey so their ideas can be included or contact