Redbridge Council is making progress towards its carbon zero target, but there is more to do, says Councillor Jo Blackman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Civic Pride
The impact of climate change is impossible to ignore. As well as the temperature rising, we have seen locally the impact of more extreme weather conditions, with flash floods last summer and record-breaking heatwaves.
At Redbridge Council, we declared a climate emergency in 2019, which led to the development of our Climate Change Action Plan, adopted last year. This is a three-year plan with 114 actions to help the council reduce its emissions and make progress towards being carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2050.
The plan is driving departments across the council to consider more carefully their impact on emissions. The report on the first year of progress under the action plan showed a reduction in emissions by 16.2%, thanks mainly to a switch to renewable energy sources across the council estate as well as energy efficiency measures for hundreds of low-income households delivered through the Go Green grant administered by the council. We have also reduced the pension fund’s overall carbon footprint by 31%.
Transport was identified as the second-largest source of emissions after buildings, so we need to do all we can to promote active travel and reduce emissions from vehicles. New, segregated bike lanes in the west of the borough, as well as new cycle parking (20 hangars and 100 bike racks) across the borough are helping people switch from cars to bikes. We’ve just introduced four new School Streets schemes, bringing our total to 11, with more planned for consultation.
Where people have to drive, we are supporting the transition from diesel and petrol to electric vehicles by increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points ten-fold – to 600 in 2023.
Thanks to the introduction of wheelie bins and the expanded range of materials that can be recycled (with the addition of plastic pots, tubs, trays and foil last year), our recycling rate has increased by nearly 10%. Reducing the amount we consume and increasing the amount we reuse is even better than recycling. And that’s why repair cafes have been held across the borough to encourage people to get broken items fixed. Composting can also help reduce waste and we have a new community compost bin on Wanstead Place.
Action to reduce emissions can also deliver multiple benefits, like improving air quality, making roads safer, improving health and reducing obesity through active travel. And faced with a cost of living crisis and escalating energy costs, improving energy efficiency is a vital cost saving measure, too.
We have lots more to do to become carbon zero, but we’re making progress.
To view the Redbridge Climate Change Action Plan, visit wnstd.com/ccap