Climate emergency - Up your ambition Southwark Council

Climate Change – Time to act and be more ambitious for Southwark say the Southwark Liberal Democrat Councillor Group in their response to the council's consultation on “Tackling the Climate Emergency Together"

The Southwark Liberal Democrats have written to Southwark Council calling to accelerate its action on climate change and up its ambition.  The letter outlines a five point plan for how the council should proceed to act on the Climate Emergency and stop dithering and delay. 

Read the full letter -> here. Or see link in notes below.


Photo Credit by Markus Spiske


Addressed to the Labour cabinet members recently taking over climate change responsibilities from the previous cabinet led by Cllr Peter John, it highlights the failure to tackle climate change over the past decade including:

  • Chopping down over 5000+ mature trees, spending £millions doing so and failing to replace them and grow our forests.
  • Buying and burning £millions of fossil fuels and spending £millions upgrading fossil fuel heating systems on our estates instead of replacing them with green energy solutions.
  • Building multi-storey private development skyscrapers all over Southwark without positive green footprints and now having 6000 or more homes sitting empty with 15000 people on the waiting list.
  • Collecting tonnes of rubbish from thousands of residents across Southwark but not using enough of it for regenerative energies.


Whilst acknowledging that the Council is waking up to what it needs to do including investment in tree planting and early stage installations of renewable heating, the problem is this isn’t fast enough or ambitious enough.  The letter points to the council’s slow take up on over 50% of recommendations made by its own cross-party environment scrutiny panel over 12 months ago.

The Southwark Liberal Democrats challenge the council with five points of action calling on them to:

  1. Stop making it someone else’s problem and speed the whole programme up 10-fold in 2021
  2. Invest in the hard decisions and big infrastructure changes
  3. Do everything for Southwark to become ‘Climate Change Improving’ by 2030 and commit to stop all fossil fuel use in our Borough by 2030
  4. Change behaviours across Southwark
  5. Measure progress Quarterly – both across the council, residents and local business.


The letter highlights areas such as dealing with our dependency on car travel, fossil fuels and plastics as well as building better greener homes.  It also pledges the support of all the 14 Liberal Democrat councillors to help with the bold vision and action plan and implementing solutions to our Climate Change Emergency.

Cllr Graham Neale, Southwark Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Climate Change said:

“The single biggest threat to our planet is the impact of us. It was 2019 over 2 years ago that this council declared a Climate Emergency and we are still debating a strategy about carbon reduction with no clear action plan.  We have to act now and be more ambitious to rapidly adopt climate change actions covering our energy needs, housing needs, travel habits, shopping and food supplies and of course our biodiversity for Southwark.  Let’s be the leaders as one of the largest Local authorities in London and the UK.  Just reducing our climate change impact is no longer enough.  We must embark on an ambitious plan of reversing climate change now.”

The Liberal Democrats have lead the way at the Council on climate change initiatives – setting the first aggressive targets on carbon reduction since early 2000s, encouraging use of bio-fuels for the Council fleet and leading the move of the Council’s pension fund of £ Billions away from fossil fuels.

If you wish to get in touch on this or anything else, please get in touch by email at: [email protected]


Please cut and paste below link to download the Letter:

Please see the councils draft climate change strategy report here:

Please see the October 2020 Cabinet reports responding to the Cross-party Environment Scrutiny Commission here: