Decision details

Motion on the theme

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


Amendment A was put to the vote and declared to be Carried.


The motion was put to the vote and declared to be Carried.




Note: This motion will be referred as a recommendation to the cabinet for consideration.


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 alternatives;

  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 animals.

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 emergency.


3.  Councilassembly 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 scale.

d.  That bold climate action can deliver economic and social benefits: new jobs, economic savings, business opportunities and improved health and wellbeing.


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 develop.

c.  Call on other London boroughs to also work towards carbon neutrality by 2030.

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.


5.  On the principle of ‘Think Global, Act Local’, council assembly:


a.  Notes the value of community assets, such as the allotments in Lamash Street in Saint George’s Ward, through which local residents have provided a sustainable source of locally produced organic food for decades;

b.  Fully supports the Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf Pedestrian and Cycle bridge, which will be the centrepiece of the green transport strategy for the area;

c.  Commits itself to investigating the possibility of gradually phasing out car lease schemes for those non-key workers who do not need exclusive access to a car in order to carry out their job;

d.  Recognises the vital importance of open spaces to Southwark’s communities, in particular that the availability and accessibility of open space in our borough contributes towards addressing loneliness amongst older people, by providing a place for them to socialise;

e.  Further recognises that well maintained public open spaces can provide an appropriate place for younger people to meet and socialise, in a way which minimises the risk of anti-social behaviour;

f.  Notes that there are considerable financial savings to be made by ‘going green’, whether it be more energy efficient lighting, smart meters at council properties, or  piloting energy generation schemes such as installing solar panels on council properties;

g.  Commits itself to supporting low or zero-emissions public transport, and calls on Transport for London (TfL) to reinstate the no-emission RV1 bus service in full;

h.  Commits to working with TfL to reduce congestion on Jamaica Road and Lower Road;

i.  Commits to push developers to work harder on meeting the council and GLA’s carbon reduction targets, and ensure that monies collected in lieu through the Carbon Offset Fund are spent on projects that genuinely offset the equivalent emissions created by new developments;

j.  Commits to investigate ways of combining ‘Big Data’ and new technologies to support smarter management of our local environment, taking inspiration from examples such as the Municipality of Albertslund in Denmark, who tested different waste solutions to improve knowledge on how to optimise the collection and route planning of waste, and the city of Copenhagen who have used data-driven traffic management to improve air quality.

Publication date: 29/05/2019

Date of decision: 27/03/2019

Decided at meeting: 27/03/2019 - Council Assembly

Accompanying Documents: