Blog by Rachael Edwards
Community Champions Project Manager & Volunteer Coordinator
In July 2019, Merton Council declared a Climate Emergency and is now working to become a carbon neutral borough by 2050 and a carbon neutral Council by 2030. The Council is developing a Climate Action Plan to deliver these targets.
A few months ago, many of you completed the Council’s Climate Emergency Consultation Survey that will contribute to the development of this Plan. Your ideas, along with insight from other workstreams, have now been turned into a long list of potential actions. At the end of February, Diana Sterck and I had the opportunity to contribute to Merton Council’s Climate Action Plan Stakeholder Workshop which helped to prioritise these actions. This workshop brought together stakeholders from the Council and their contractors, other public sector bodies, businesses, the community, and residents. With this blog, I wanted to share a summary of the workshop and the Climate Action Plan.
The Council’s Work So Far...
During the first part of the workshop, we heard an update on the Council’s work so far in the development of a Climate Action Plan. To date, the Council has compiled a long list of potential actions based on evidence from four workstreams:
1. Climate Emergency Working Group: Made up of 15 highly informed community members (including our own Tom Walsh and Community Champions Cecily and Alice), the Working Group undertook community consultation and research to compile specific recommendations for the Climate Action Plan under several themes.
2. Public consultation
Online survey and community engagement (e.g., residents groups). Thank you to all of you who completed this survey! The results of the survey provided the Council with a strong mandate to proceed with the Climate Action Plan.
3. Technical evidence
Technical work on greenhouse gas emissions throughout the borough. Addresses the question: What has to happen to reach carbon neutrality by 2030/2050 from a technical standpoint?
4. Internal teams
Several offices within the Council are seeing what they can do in their specific areas to address Climate Emergency and contribute to reaching net zero by 2030.
From these 4 workstreams, the Council gathered a wide-ranging list of 140 potential actions that can be taken to contribute to climate change mitigation. Although it covers a broad scope, the actions generally aren’t very specific. That’s where this workshop came in… The workshop was all about prioritizing actions and answering the question: HOW we can implement the actions?
The Climate Action Stakeholder Workshop: Prioritising Actions
Part I: A Vision for Net Zero Carbon Merton
In the first part of the workshop, we were asked to envision a 2050 carbon neutral Merton. What would it look like? Feel like? Sound like? This was a great brainstorming exercise and, positively, none of what we imagined was about sacrifices. Instead, workshop attendees pictured Merton as a greener, cleaner, safer, more social, and locally supportive place than it is today. It was a place where you know your neighbours and spend more of your time locally in vibrant and socially dynamic neighbourhoods. This is a message that we should be spreading far and wide: Carbon neutrality = a happier, healthier community.
Part II: Delivering Net Zero Carbon Merton
In this second workshop, we worked towards prioritizing the 140 potential actions. These actions had been placed into 6 sectors:
Domestic buildings & household energy use
Non-domestic buildings & business energy use
Waste and sustainable procurement
Governance, reporting and finance
We were asked to place each action on a scale from Low Impact to High Carbon Impact and from Low Effort to High Effort. Positively, almost all the actions were thought to result in a high impact, with a wide-ranging spread in the amount of effort they would take to achieve.
Part III: Action Planning
This final session took a more detailed look at the high carbon impact actions.
What needs to happen? What are the barriers to success and how can we overcome
them? Who needs to be involved and how can we work together?
The Council will now take the recommendations from this workshop and work towards agreeing the actions needed for the Climate Action Plan which will be taken forward to the cabinet.
Find out more about Merton Council’s response to the climate emergency