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Declaring a Climate Change Emergency
1. Council assembly notes:
a. Southwark’s Council Plan Commitments to make Southwark carbon neutral
by 2050 and halve Southwark Council’s emissions by 2022.
b. Southwark Council’s existing work to tackle climate change, including:
i. Cutting the council’s carbon emissions by 25%;
ii. Divesting pensions funds away from fossil fuels into sustainable
iii. Introducing idling fines for drivers who leave their engines running
while idle;
iv. Closing roads around schools to improve air quality;
v. Ensuring more people are walking and cycling rather than using
greenhouse gas emitting vehicles;
vi. Protecting Southwark’s biodiversity;
vii. Keeping recycling rates high: Southwark’s are currently the highest in
inner London;
viii. Committing to ending single use plastic in the council, halving it in the
borough, and introducing water fountains to reduce plastic bottle use.
2. Council assembly further notes:
a. Humans have already caused climate change. Global temperatures have
already increased by 1°C from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2
levels in excess of 400 parts per million are already far in excess of the 350
deemed the safe level for humanity.
b. That plastic pollution has become a widespread and critical problem
throughout our society and steps must be taken to halt and reduce the flow
of plastic waste into our environment. This is a problem that is not going
away – all of the plastic ever created still exists today and estimates
suggest that 1 in 3 fish now contain some traces of microplastic so our
waste is now contaminating our food chain.
c. The recent 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
report which states that we have just 12 years to act on climate change if
global temperature rises are to be kept within the recommended 1.5°C.
c. That the expected consequences of a 2°C instead of a 1.5°C increase in
global temperatures would include 99% of warm water corals and their
associated ecosystems disappearing, at least one in ten summers in the
Arctic having little or no sea ice at all, 420 million more people worldwide
being exposed to extreme heatwaves, sea levels at least 10cm higher,
more frequent extreme weather events, and potential mass extinctions of
d. That this Conservative government’s failure to take the radical steps
required to prevent an increase of over 1.5°C is shameful. Its guidelines to
only reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 are woefully short of the
change that is needed.
e. That as a largely low-lying area next to the tidal Thames, Southwark is
particularly prone to the impact of sea level rises and flooding.
f. Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy
and Industrial Strategy’s recent announcement that the Labour Party
intends to launch a Green New Deal, which would decarbonise the UK’s
economy, and create thousands of new jobs in the renewable energy
sector in deprived areas and communities. Proposals also include
increasing the UK’s installed offshore wind capacity sevenfold, bringing all
homes in the UK up to the highest efficiency standard, and tripling the UK’s
solar power capacity.
g. That the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared a climate
3. Council assembly believes:
a. This situation requires urgent action by all levels of government,
businesses and individuals.
b. That, despite the leadership already shown by Southwark Council to
reduce carbon, it needs to go further still if we are to play our part in
preventing further climate change and to set an example to others.
c. That, whilst Southwark Council can and should take all possible steps to
reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental sustainability,
ultimately this problem needs to be tackled on a national and international
d. That bold climate action can deliver economic and social benefits: new
jobs, economic savings, business opportunities and improved health and
4. Council assembly resolves to call on cabinet to:
a. Declare a Climate Emergency and do all it can to make the borough carbon
neutral by 2030.
b. Develop a strategy, working with local stakeholders, to ensure that the
council becomes carbon neutral at a much more rapid pace than currently
envisaged. This Carbon Reduction Strategy should aim to achieve carbon
neutrality by 2030 if feasible. This strategy should be clear in its targets and
resources required. It should also be developed in a way that is sufficiently
flexible to make best use of new carbon reduction technologies as they
c. Call on other London boroughs to also work towards carbon neutrality by
d. Lobby government to provide the power and resources to the Mayor of
London and local authorities to accelerate the pace of carbon reduction.
e. Lobby the government to take radical steps to divest away from fossil fuels,
invest in new technologies to make innovative approaches such as carbon
sequestering possible, and reduce the UK’s reliance on greenhouse gases.
Note: If the motion is agreed, any proposals will be submitted to the cabinet for