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Information from the London Borough of Sutton

Sutton climate and ecological emergency

Thank you to everyone who has helped to shape Sutton’s response to the climate and ecological emergency.  

In February and March 2020, more than 880 people shared their views on how we can all respond to the climate emergency by attending events or completing our online survey. The valuable feedback we received helped to shape our Environment Strategy and Climate Emergency Response Plan. We will keep you updated on the delivery of the action plan via this page, social media and our Sutton Scene newsletter.

We’ve declared a climate and ecological emergency - what does that mean? 

Sutton has always been committed to protecting and improving the environment for future generations. 

Declaring an emergency means we recognise we need to accelerate our plans. It is too late to stop climate change. It’s not too late to reduce the impact it will have. 

Sutton is already being affected by climate change - and the actions of people and organisations in Sutton are contributing to climate change here and elsewhere in the world. 

If everyone acts, we are able to make a difference both to Sutton and around the world. 

What is the climate and ecological emergency?

The climate and ecological emergency recognises the significant impact on our planet of increased carbon dioxide emissions. This has and continues to rapidly drive up global temperatures impacting our environment, weather, eco-system and more.

The rapid change requires a robust and rapid response to achieve a net-zero carbon environment. Net-zero (sometimes termed carbon neutrality) means the carbon emissions produced are either eliminated or balanced through removal of carbon from our atmosphere. 

To better understand the impact and current situation in Sutton view our Climate Emergency Data page

What is the council doing? 

In October 2020, the council published a revised Environment Strategy and Climate Emergency Response Plan. This sets out the Council's ambition to be London’s most sustainable borough, including the committment to become a zero carbon council and borough. 

View our current projects and initiatives page for details of what we are currently delivering.

We have sent a letter to our public sector partners to find out what action they are taking to reduce carbon emissions in the borough. We will be writing to more partners soon. 

London Councils is leading work to develop collaborative projects between London Boroughs to tackle climate change and respond to the declared climate and ecological emergency. This includes a series of joint projects which Sutton will be part of. 

There will also be new actions we need to take which we are in the process of identifying. For some areas, there aren’t better solutions than the ones we have already, even though we know an improvement would be better. So we will need to keep adjusting our plans over the next decade as new technology and solutions become available. 

What should I be doing? 

There is plenty every person, business, school, charity and organisation can do. Take a look at our pages here or attend one of our upcoming events to find out more. 

What are Sutton’s biggest carbon emissions? 

The latest available data for the UK is collected by the Department of Business, Innovation, Energy and Skills and dates from 2017 as the data is on a two year time lag. The National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory lists the top three areas of emissions in Sutton as: 

  • Domestic gas
  • Industry and commercial electricity
  • Road transport (minor roads)

The data can be viewed on the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory website

What about other emissions? 

The council has an Air Quality Action Plan which forms part of the Environment Strategy. Our work to continue to reduce particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide emissions continues. 

You can read the Air Quality Action Plan here.

What about trees? 

Trees, grasslands and other habitats contribute to the capture and storage of carbon and so protecting them is vital. Planting more trees and creating new habitat is part of the solution, but by itself will not be enough because there is not enough space to do so. 

Planting trees in your own garden, even in a pot on a balcony, contributes to reducing carbon. 

Is net zero carbon achievable? 

Achieving net zero carbon will be challenging and require action from everyone, locally and globally. Significantly reducing emissions from current levels is definitely possible. Any remaining emissions are likely to need offsetting through a regulated source, but this needs to be a last resort rather than an easy alternative.