Since declaring a Climate Emergency in February 2019, Lewisham Council has been developing a Climate Emergency Action Plan which will outline the measures required to successfully meet the objective of becoming a carbon-neutral borough by 2030.

A key part of this work was commissioning an analysis of the various sources of CO2 emissions in the borough. Since completion of this research, Lewisham’s Climate Resilience team have been looking at the various actions that can be taken to mitigate and reduce the present 800,000 tons CO2e emissions (see graphic above), the associated costs, and how long the actions are likely to take to put in place.

CO2 emission reduction pathway following ‘Core action’, Radical stretch’ and “Systemic change’ scenarios

CO2e emissions in Lewisham in 2017/18

Martin O’Brien (Lewisham Council’s Climate Resilience Manager) presented an initial Climate Emergency Update report at the Sustainable Development Select Committee (SDSC) on 21st January. A period of open consultation is now under way before the Action Plan is finalised and brought before Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet for approval in late March.

The first open Lewisham Climate Emergency Public Forum took place on 29th January at the Civic Suite in Catford. Members of the public were invited to attend and submit ideas for reducing emissions within the borough.

The stated aims of the meeting were to:

  • “Share our research into the scale and pace of action required to meet the 2030 target
  • Start a conversation with residents about what their role could / should be in meeting the target, particularly with regard to homes and transport
  • Gain an understanding of ways in which the Council can support resident action”

Following an introduction by Cllr Sophie McGeevor (Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport) and an executive summary of the Climate Emergency Update report by Martin O’Brien, attendees were invited to split into facilitated groups and spend 10-15 minutes suggesting and documenting ideas on each of the themes of Transport, Housing, and Greening&Adaptation. It is our understanding that all these ideas will be collated and circulated to attendees.


Although the official Webcast of the event did not work, a member of Lewisham XR filmed some of the event on Facebook Live; you may be able to watch it there.

CAL’s official response to this first meeting is as follows:

“Climate Action Lewisham were lucky enough to be among the attendees at the Lewisham council Climate Emergency public consultation event on 29th January. This was the first of what we hope will be many such events during the development and implementation of the borough’s Climate Emergency Action Plan. We found the content and format of the event to be interesting and engaging. A key finding of the recent consultation document was that Lewisham produces approximately 800,000 tonnes of C02e overall (excluding ‘Scope 3’ emissions). This is relatively low compared to other local authority areas, but it needs to be reduced to zero within 10 years. We are broadly in support of Lewisham’s ambition on the scope and scale of changes needed, and their commitment to addressing sources of C02e outside the borough’s direct control. This is showing admirable leadership on these tough issues.

However, we were among just 38 people who attended the event. We were disappointed that consultation at this stage is not actively being extended to a wider cross-section of the borough’s demographic. To achieve the ambitious aims of the Action Plan, the council will need whole-borough public engagement on the facts of the matter and the many challenging actions that will be required. On this note, given the many people who were unable to take part in the event, we were extremely disappointed that the proposed Webcast of the event did not work.

We would like to see three specialist Working Groups established under leadership from of the council, chiefly in the areas of Housing, Transport, Greening /Adaptation in order to get the best solutions possible. Similar measures are needed to look at Education and Schools, Local Economy, Renewable Energy and Communication.

Working Groups need to involve relevant local charities, community organisations and businesses, as well as external specialist organisations, experts and key officers and Members under a democratically elected Chair. The aim is to utilise specialist expertise from within the community that also has knowledge of our local context, together with effective examples of best practice further afield. We need to harness the huge amount of goodwill and intellectual capital available locally in order to solve the huge challenges faced by the Action Plan. It has been widely demonstrated that such input results in better decision-making and more effective, innovative solutions than those produced by a small internal group of officers.

The council is responsible for, but only partially in control of, the outcomes aspired to in these Action Plan areas. Locally we need to transition to a genuinely sustainable society in a very short time frame. Residents and businesses will need to be fully involved and also supported and encouraged through strong and transparent council leadership so they can play their part. 

Climate Action Lewisham is keen to be part of this process and to partner with the council in appropriate ways to support a whole-borough transition.”

The full ‘Climate Emergency Update Report’ presented to the SDSC on 21 January 2020 is available here. It contains a detailed breakdown of the actions comprising the ‘Core actions’, ‘Radical stretch’ and ‘Systemic change’ scenarios, including estimates of the costs and specific CO2e savings.

You can read more about the Climate Emergency Declaration and Lewisham’s plans to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030 on the dedicated pages of Lewisham Council’s website. NB: at the foot of the main page you can register to receive their regular Climate Emergency email updates.

To sign up for our own (CAL) newsletter, drop us an email at climateactionlewisham[AT] And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter! (@ActionLewisham).