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Greenwich Council: We’re Committed to Being Carbon Neutral By 2030

hounslow
Greenwich

Averil Lekau

Deputy Leader and Royal Greenwich Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport

Cllr Averil Lekau discusses Greenwich’s net zero commitments.

It is indisputable that climate change is a rapid, accelerating and very real threat to how we live. That’s why the Royal Borough of Greenwich declared a climate emergency in 2019, and why we have set an ambitious target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Even in ‘normal’ times, to achieve net zero by 2030 would be a major challenge. Considering the national context of living in a post-COVID-19 world, with a war raging in Europe, along with an energy crisis and spiralling inflation, there are now considerable challenges to our Carbon Neutral Plan. 

To meet our net-zero commitment, we are taking bold steps on energy, housing, food and transport. And while we’ve committed to taking action locally, the Government must step up too as national intervention is clearly required, including investment and fundamental changes in the behaviours of individual households. 

As a Council, we’re already building thousands of net zero and low carbon homes, creating better routes for walking and cycling, and implementing controlled parking zones to discourage car use. We recently introduced a new emission based parking scheme, meaning parking charges are now based on your vehicle’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This will encourage people in Royal Greenwich to drive more environmentally friendly cars or use public transport or active travel where they can.

We are also installing electric vehicle charging points across the borough, planting thousands of extra trees, and procuring 100% green electricity for council buildings. As well as this, we are investing millions into making sure homes in our borough are cleaner and greener, saving money for residents and reducing our carbon footprint. We are also setting up and strengthening partnerships with businesses and local organisations to help reduce emissions across the borough. 

We are pleased with the High Court’s recent landmark ruling that the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across all of London is lawful. This is a huge victory in the fight for clean air and a crucial step forward in protecting the health of all residents in Royal Greenwich from toxic air pollution. We wouldn’t drink dirty water, so we shouldn’t accept breathing dirty air. High levels of air pollution disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, exacerbating existing health inequalities. 

We’re looking at lots of other ways to make our borough easier and greener to travel to and move around in. We’re continuing to campaign for greater connectivity in Royal Greenwich through public transport, such as more bus routes and the DLR expansion to Thamesmead in the east of our borough, which will help reduce reliance on cars in the area. We’ve also called on the Mayor of London to repurpose the Silvertown Tunnel, and prioritise public transport and cycling so that communities on either side of the river are better connected.

Final thought 

We set this ambitious target of zero carbon emissions by 2030 because the risks associated with climate change are real and serious.

With miles of riverfront, the risk of floods is particularly real for us in Royal Greenwich. But droughts, heatwaves and other extreme weather conditions will also have a massive impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents. 

Whilst we are stepping up to the challenge, the central government appears to be taking a step back from their Net Zero commitments. It is crucial that we hold firm on policy and messaging. It is not the time to dilute our commitment and send mixed messaging. If we are to make real progress in tackling climate change, it will require everyone to make a concerted effort.

We recognise that more action will be needed over the next few years, and we are committed to acting. As a Council, we want to lead by example and use our influence to engage and support people and organisations in the borough to address this huge challenge and fulfil new opportunities. 

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