On February 26 2019, in recognition of the climate and biodiversity crisis we are in, Lewisham Council unanimously passed a motion to declare a climate emergency. The motion called upon the Mayor and cabinet to commit to making Lewisham carbon neutral by 2030.

Residents in Lewisham, and members of our group Climate Action Lewisham, were proud to be one of the first London boroughs to declare a climate emergency.

Since the motion was declared, a team structure has been agreed, with Lewisham Council’s Climate Resilience Manager Martin O’Brien tasked with developing the implementation plan, reporting to Executive Director Kevin Sheehan.  Without delay, Martin O’Brien has begun the process of commissioning research to identify and prioritise the sources of greatest carbon emissions in the borough.

Martin is working on a proposal which will be presented to the Sustainable Development Select Committee at the end of May.

A small working group from Climate Action Lewisham is meeting regularly with Martin  seeking updates and checking on general progress and developments. Update from this meeting will be shared widely through our mailing list, on our Facebook page and here on this website.

Local councils across the UK will play a vital role in bringing about overall reductions in carbon emissions. Equally vitally, they need central government to provide the resources and funding to make this happen. Climate Action Lewisham will continue to seek and maximise opportunities to keep up pressure on central government, through dialogue with Lewisham & Deptford MP Vicky Foxcroft and collaboration with other like-minded groups and individuals.

What follows is the text from the Declaration:

Motion to declare a Climate Emergency

Humans have already caused irreversible climate change, the impacts of which are being felt around the world. Global temperatures have increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm) and continue to rise. This far exceeds the 350 ppm deemed to be a safe level for humanity.

Without significant and sustained action, the world will exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit before 2050. The government’s policies and programmes to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 are insufficient.

Individual and collective action is needed to make this reduction. Society needs to change its laws, taxation, infrastructure and culture to recognise and meet the full cost of greenhouse gases.

The public sector has a fundamental role in enabling individuals and communities to make sustainable low carbon choices.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5°C rise. The IPCC identify that limiting global warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and local communities.

In Lewisham, the consequences of inaction to address this climate emergency will include:

  • Increased risk of flooding and damage to buildings, infrastructure and the local economy.
  • Health problems, particularly for children, older people and those with pre-existing 
  • Higher living costs including energy, food, travel and insurance costs.
  • Increases in social injustice and inequality.
  • Financial and emotional consequences for residents with families around the world 
adversely affected by the impact of a changing climate 
Councils around the world, including the Mayor of London and other local authorities in London and the UK have responded by declaring a ‘climate emergency’ and committing resources to address this emergency.

Lewisham Council resolves to: 

  1. Declare a ‘climate emergency’
  2. Recognise that a changing climate will have severe and enduring social, economic and environmental implications, and that tackling climate change is an issue of inequality as the greatest impact will be on the most vulnerable and those least able to protect themselves.

Call on the Mayor and Cabinet to:

  1. Pledge to do everything within their power to make Lewisham carbon neutral by 2030.
  2. Launch a review to report to on delivering a Zero-Carbon Lewisham including:
    • Publishing a new Lewisham Action Plan on Climate Change, with an interim draft ready for scrutiny by the Sustainable Development Select Committee and Mayor & Cabinet before the end of the municipal year 2019/20.
    • Setting specific and measurable targets to reduce carbon emissions for the Council and for the borough as a whole, including costed milestones to zero-carbon;
    • Consider systematically the climate change impact of each area of the Council’s activities;
    • Increase local resilience to climate impacts already in the system.
  3. Task an Executive Director with responsibility for reducing the carbon emissions resulting from the Council’s activities as rapidly as possible, and ensuring a coordinated approach across housing, our corporate estate, transport, regeneration, planning and other services.
  4. Continue to prioritise support for vulnerable residents through the Council’s fuel poverty programmes working with partners at a community, borough wide and regional level to provide advice services and access to funding for heating, insulation and ventilation.
  5. Accelerate existing programmes to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions including delivery of heat networks in the borough, low carbon development and high quality housing, an efficient and low carbon corporate estate and support for renewables and for community energy.
  6. Work with partner bodies across the borough and across London to ensure the climate emergency is adequately reflected in the development and implementation of all borough wide strategies and plans.
  7. Reaffirm Lewisham’s membership of UK100, and use our membership to work with other councils across the UK to meet climate change targets.
  8. Draw up a communications strategy to support delivery of a Zero-Carbon Lewisham and enable Lewisham residents to make low carbon choices.
  9. Call on the UK Government to provide the powers and resources to make this possible.

Proposer : Cllr Tauseef Anwar             Seconder: Cllr Louise Krupski