On July 5th the council presented their response to the climate crisis. On the 15th of July we send back our views for the council’s consideration. The text of our response is below, and we have also created a petition to demand action on the most pressing issue we have identified: The hiring of a Climate Lead. Please sign our petition here.
It is great to see actions behind the words of declaring a climate emergency. With only 10 years to act, we really can't be wasting any time! We believe, despite the absence of central government funding, local governments have the potential to be more innovative and the early movers to get the national government to take on the climate emergency response approach. Local councils and communities have an indispensable role in helping to build a national and global response.
We have had a read through of the Climate Crisis Response Report and Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan and it is great to see that:
you are planning on establishing a baseline on Lambeth's current position on carbon emissions
for current and future procurement you will be making it a contractual duty for suppliers and partners to report on their carbon emissions (although you could even more ambitious in this - a number of councils are now purchasing 100% green energy (vs energy must be green wherever possible).
you will be working with a wide range of partners from across the borough.
However, we also want to see the following points included:
This plan must include hiring of a Climate Lead (or whatever job title seems appropriate) who is coordinating Council Deptartments and who is a point of contact for the public.
Other examples of this role that we have seen are Climate Resilience Manager (Lewisham) and Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Climate Emergency (Southwark)
·There must also be a committee of councillors established to shadow the work of the Climate Lead and hold them to account. The committee should conduct regular audits of the Climate Lead’s work and make evidence-based recommendations to improve their effectiveness.
In regards to your Citizen's Assembly plans - you might already be aware that Oxford and Camden have already set a date, and Sheffield, Lancaster and Devon have committed to holding one in 2019. It would be worth reaching out to these local authorities and sharing ideas/implementation plans.
We understand that the details for the Citizen's Assembly are in its early stages but the following should be included/answered:
how long the CA will have to consider a climate crisis plan (two weekends that Ireland had was too short),
will assembly members be paid so it is inclusive?
will there be a submissions period where local groups and residents can offer their opinions and ideas?
will it be live streamed?
Will there be a mechanism to ensure some of the recommendations from the CA are binding?
A communications plan must be included alongside your carbon reduction plan to encourage participation and awareness amongst local residents. For instance, having easy to find and clear communication via dedicated pages on Council website or link to a website - not in Council speak - a go to place for a resident to learn what is happening and get involved.
The climate crisis is not just for the council to be tackling and we should be encouraging mass mobilisation of the public as befits an emergency. Residents need to be aware of the risks facing Lambeth due to climate change and understand why achieving zero carbon is so vital and the urgency with which change needs to happen. It will require a sophisticated comms messaging to galvanise residents into positive action so the Council is supported. It would be worth approaching an Advertising Agency to see if they would take on this creative challenge Pro Bono.
The comms plan will be especially important when it comes to reporting progress and allowing residents the opportunity to feed into the annual review.
This Action Plan (as part of the Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan) should also include which partners/businesses/other councils will be key in delivering these actions.
Missing from Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan
There was no mention of waste within the Action Plan section of the Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan (e.g. adopting circular economy waste policies in local plans, mineral plans and waste management plans and contracts, as well promoting community sharing, reuse and recycling).
There was no mention of how you will raise funds for action? (e.g. convening with other local authorities to bid for money).
There was no mention of impact and changes needed to the food supply. The council should commit to sustainable food in all outlets, reducing waste, and good vegan menus.
Level of code 4 for new council homes is not enough - there should be an aspiration to build only to Passivhaus standard, or at least the now defunct Code 6. Many local councils are now building to this standard.
We also recommend taking a look at the following resources:
Ashden have launched a Climate Action Co-benefits toolkit to help local and combined authorities to radically cut carbon emissions while delivering wider benefits. They launched this at an event together with the Grantham Institute who have published a briefing paper on the co-benefits of climate action.
This 8 page guide, published in Australia for an international audience, explains: The scientific evidence of the emergency; The crucial initiating role of local government; and What is an emergency response?
We look forward to hearing from you and working with you to reach our ambitious goal of making Lambeth Council carbon neutral by 2030.