Agenda item

Tackling Climate Change in Light of Covid-19

Contact for information: Hannah Jameson, Assistant Director, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Response; 0207 926 6918,



At the beginning of this item the Chair stated that requests to speak had been received from Cllr Nicole Griffiths and Cllr Pete Elliott. Since these requests were received after the published deadline, they were declined, but a written submission was invited and subsequently received.


Councillor Claire Holland, Deputy Leader of the Council (Sustainable Transport, Environment & Clean Air) introduced the report and made the following points:


  • Since Lambeth declared a climate emergency in January 2019, work had not stopped on progressing this agenda, which now ran throughout the council’s strategic operations
  • Investment in the team leading the climate change work had occurred prior to the pandemic
  • The corporate carbon reduction plan had been published, as had the carbon emissions baseline for both the council and the borough as a whole. This work was done in house, which had helped develop skills, and had also been peer reviewed
  • The Transport Strategy launched in 2019 set out various projects including Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and joint initiatives with Transport for London (TfL) which, along with work on electric vehicle charging, solar panels on estates and tackling single use plastics, had stood the council in good stead when Covid-19 hit
  • Lambeth had published the first emergency transport strategy in the country. The initial phase ran to September, after which TfL’s emergency settlement would become known
  • It was important to avoid a car-led recovery which would exacerbate current inequalities
  • The planned Citizens’ Assembly had been postponed. An online climate action hub was being launched to continue dialogue with stakeholders, share ideas and access information, all of which would help enrich the Assembly when it was able to take place
  • Local government had a unique role in tackling climate change but could do so much more if the funding commitment from central government was enhanced


In response to questions from members, Councillor Claire Holland, Deputy Leader of the Council (Sustainable Transport, Environment & Clean Air); and Hannah Jameson, Assistant Director, Sustainable Development & Climate Change Response, stated that:


  • It was acknowledged that the emergency road closures may feel counter-intuitive to some people who may have ended up driving for longer as a result; however, such emergency measures were based on a huge amount of traffic flow data collected over many years
  • In the original Transport Strategy, the council was going to implement three LTNs in three years; under the emergency strategy seven would be delivered in five months. Research and experience suggested there would be a bedding in phase while behaviour change took hold
  • In terms of engagement, officer capacity was significantly stretched but residents were sent letters when emergency transport works were to be carried out in their neighbourhood, ward councillors were briefed, and posters and other materials were distributed in the area. There was also a named officer for each area who residents could contact with any enquiries
  • One aim of the emergency transport measures was to support a local economic recovery
  • The emissions baseline was a living document which would be refined over time as assumptions were clarified
  • It was acknowledged that Bristol Council had invested a great deal in analytical capacity and as a result their baseline document was extremely comprehensive. Officers were aware of this work and it was stressed that local authorities were learning from each other
  • The borough-wide baseline was high level and used Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) data. This was consistent with the approach taken by most local authorities. Improving the depth and detail of the data would be a key part of ongoing work but the BEIS data gave a useful starting point
  • There was scope for data sharing and partnership arrangements with London South Bank University, King’s College London and major local employers. This would help build a more sophisticated picture
  • The biggest proportion of emissions in terms of the council baseline came from heating and powering buildings. The baseline for Lambeth’s council housing used data from communal heating systems and energy consumption in relation to communal areas but individual household data could not be obtained due to data protection
  • Officers were conscious that climate change was an important part of people’s thinking when engaging with residents around LTNs
  • LTNs were being implemented under temporary orders and a full consultation would need to follow if it was proposed to make them permanent
  • Future funding in this area was unclear, though TfL were renegotiating with the government in September
  • The Citizens’ Assembly would likely involve 50-60 people who would be chosen to be representative of the borough population in terms of demographics as well as views on climate change
  • It was acknowledged that a comprehensive communications plan was needed that went beyond online
  • The council was committed to eliminating Glyphosate. The delay of the waste contract procurement had impacted this, though the street opt-out was proving popular
  • The council was looking to draw up an energy strategy but funding was required for this
  • The work going on in Islington regarding heat transfer was interesting and Lambeth was keen to innovate




At this point in the meeting the guillotine fell at 9.00pm.


MOVED by the Chair and


RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes

The Chair thanked the Deputy Leader of the Council (Sustainable Transport, Environment & Clean Air) and the Assistant Director, Sustainable Development & Climate Change Response for their contributions, and also thanked Cllr Elliott for his very helpful written submission, before summarising the discussions on this item, resulting in the following recommendations:



  1. That the importance of learning from best practice be highlighted, in particular the emissions baseline document produced by Bristol City Council and the organisation and transparency of the work being done by Devon Council to implement its climate emergency plan
  2. To urge officers to ensure that the public are fully engaged and consulted on the Citizens’ Assembly and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – including via a variety of communications methods, not just online – and that such communications be appropriately coordinated in order that residents’ views on one can be used to inform the other. This communications plan should be reported back to the committee
  3. That further information be provided to the committee regarding how the council is working jointly with the Western Riverside Waste Authority on the use of its work within the climate change agenda but particularly its work on the use of incineration methods as a source of waste disposal 
  4. That the importance of refining the emissions baseline document as current assumptions evolve be highlighted, and that the process for doing this be reported back to the committee
  5. That further information regarding the evaluation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the criteria and process for making these permanent (as appropriate) be provided to the committee
  6. That an update on future funding streams for emergency transport works be provided to the committee as and when further information becomes available
  7. That the elimination of Glyphosate be accelerated and consideration be given to an opt-in (rather than opt-out) approach
  8. That the committee endorses the innovative work being done by the London Borough of Islington on heat transfer and would like to see Lambeth explore similar approaches


Supporting documents: