Consider the following priority actions, many of which can be made quickly, easily, and at low/no cost pending delivery of Camden’s new Environment Plan in March 2020.
i) Measures Camden Council can take directly
• Commit to all electricity purchased by the Council to be from a renewable source (additional cost for leaseholders to be covered by the Council).
• Reduce energy consumption by all Council buildings by improving their energy performance, use and the equipment within them.
• Commit to all Council-owned buildings generating renewable energy wherever technically possible.
• End the use of fossil fuel-based heating and hot water in all Council-owned buildings.
• Set up a municipal energy company, possibly with neighbouring boroughs, with a focus on the development of district heating systems.
• Use technology to cut carbon, eg. public lighting sensors, traffic flow sensors, point-to-point energy sharing, heat trading between buildings and the use of large public buildings as energy storage and distribution centres.
• Make approval of planning applications for solar panels the default position, with restrictions only in the most exceptional cases.
• Speed up the replacement of conventional lighting to LEDs in Council buildings and on the streets.
• Divest the Council’s pension fund away from stocks, bonds and companies which extract fossil fuels and reinvest them into sustainable alternatives, within the lifespan of the current Council.
• Give preference to use of contractors that have divested from fossil fuels.
• In-source Council services wherever possible to reduce the carbon emissions implicit in the use of large companies located far from the Borough.
• Employ local contractors even if tenders/costings are up to 10 per cent higher.
• Provide incentives for green businesses to set up in the Borough, for example with reduced rent on council-owned buildings and/or reduced business rates.
• Accelerate Camden’s move away from fossil-fuel powered vehicles in its fleet.
• Prioritise road use for low carbon transport.
• Reduce parking fees for all-electric vehicles and abolish them for car clubs.
• Rapidly expand the infrastructure of EV charging points around the Borough.
• Incentivise non-car ownership through Council tax reductions and higher tariffs for parking, including resident and business permits.
• Create a comprehensive network of safe cycling and walking routes on traffic-calmed streets.
• Give priority to pedestrians and cyclists to promote uptake in walking and cycling.
• Close selected streets to traffic at certain times of the week and have wider car-free days across Borough on a regular basis.
• End all air travel for council business other than in exceptional circumstances.
• Oppose infrastructure projects where the massive carbon emissions caused are not justified by the benefits, eg. continued opposition to High Speed 2.
• Seek to refurbish and upgrade Camden’s existing buildings, rather than demolish and build new ones (the embodied energy of new buildings can take 50-60 years to offset by energy savings in use).
• Ensure that all Council developments and regeneration projects consider the whole-life carbon footprint of buildings, are zero carbon, sustainable and increase community resilience to climate change.
• Carry out construction work using low-carbon, sustainable building materials.
• Use powers as the planning authority to require higher environmental provisions than national building standards.
• Enforce planning conditions and Building Regulation requirements to ensure all new builds are meeting the targets they were granted permission for.
• Enforce minimum energy efficiency standards in private rented sector.
• Run a conference to look at the challenges of retrofitting the Borough’s existing housing stock.
• Set up more allotments and enable local food production on Council-owned land.
• Reduce meat and dairy for in-house catering to a minimum and explain to employees why this is important.
• Provide incentives for low carbon, vegetarian/vegan cafes and restaurants.
• In consideration of global deforestation, commit to adherence to Government procurement guidelines that support deforestation-free supply chains.
• The default should be to protect all mature trees, in order to avoid significant carbon emissions and to protect biodiversity. Where felling is deemed necessary, written permission should have to be given by the Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden, who should also provide an annual report on tree cover in the Borough, including the loss of any mature trees.
• Change the current practice of harsh and frequent tree pollarding in Camden to
protect and enhance tree canopies, which provide valuable ecological services.
• Identifying areas where there is scope to radically improve the opportunities for flora and fauna to flourish.
• Plant a minimum 800 native trees per year to enhance biodiversity.
• Introduce green screening/ planting on all Council buildings where this is possible.
• Change the Council’s mowing regimes; leave more areas unmown and mow less frequently on all estates and parks.
• Discontinue the use of imported soil and take steps to prevent spread of plant diseases and alien species.
• End the use of Highly Hazardous Pesticides. 8 Become a pesticide-free borough and eliminate the Council’s use of these chemicals from its parks, streets and gardens.
• End the use of leaf-blowers.
WASTE AND RESOURCES
• Remove single-use plastics from all Council and public buildings, including schools.
• Stop selling/ using bottled water; manufacture ‘Camden reusable bottles’ and keep cups to sell in its place.
• Install public water fountains on streets and roads with heavy pedestrian use.
• Reduce generation of waste in Council facilities.
• Invest in low-carbon means of dealing with waste.
• Review waste management, particularly in businesses and schools.
• Provide financial support for local repair and restart initiatives for consumer goods and support them to expand, including training schemes and apprenticeships.
• Make variations to existing Council contracts to prevent unnecessary use of material resources, eg. routine re-paving with bitumen macadam when the condition of the existing road does not require it.
• Use less water in council buildings through education and installation of low water use appliances.
ii) Council engagement with residents, schools and community groups
• Establish a residents’ board from members of the Citizens’ Assembly to which the Council must give progress reports every 3 months at Council Meetings. This board should include, in addition to Citizen’s Assembly members, members of diaspora Camden communities whose ancestral homes are located on the front lines of climate impacts. Involvement on the board should be continuously and directly supported by the Council.
• Encourage, support and enable people to take their own actions to reduce their carbon emissions, including lifestyle changes in relation to diet, travel, waste and use of resources.
• Provide on-line and print literature (such as a regular monthly item in Camden magazine) about how residents can make a difference, including advice on buying goods for the long term and the carbon associated with buying cheap consumer goods which are transported around the world.
• Introduce monthly forums in the town hall in order for residents to share and receive tips and discuss challenges on reducing their own carbon footprints and share the findings more widely via Camden website.
• Establish local Eco-Action information, advice and drop-in centres in empty high street shop premises.
• Enable better recycling and re-use of existing goods.
• Put up posters with tips and targets.
• Encourage and support the greening up of front gardens and tree pits.
• Require learning in schools about climate change, earth systems, ecology and sustainable resource use.
• Encourage schools to reduce meat and dairy-based foods in school meals, with at least three meat-free days per week.
• Stop charging educational institutions business rates for recycling
• Encourage reduced use of water.
• Recognise there may be an increase in depression and anxiety as people- especially young people- learn the truth about the climate and ecological breakdown, and make provision for this, not least by creating a narrative of hope and opportunity
iii) Council engagement with businesses and institutions
• Convene the leadership of Camden-based major cultural and educational institutions and businesses (British Museum, Wellcome Trust, Central Saint Martins, UCL, UCLH, the Tavistock Institute, TUC, Google, Ted Baker, etc) to understand what they are doing to address the emergency and share good practice.
• Incentivise businesses to replace fossil fuel-based heating, hot water and industrial processes with sustainable alternatives.
• Incentivise businesses to reduce their carbon and environmental footprint, for example launching a green business campaign to keep shop doors closed to reduce energy loss.
• Incentivise businesses to use collective schemes for standardised supplies to reduce transport emissions.
• Request businesses to introduce at least 3 meat-free days per week in onsite catering facilities and among their workforces generally.
• Ensure that all businesses recycle, if they are not signed up to recycle through the council, then they must provide proof of contracted recycling company.
• Explore the potential for establishing an electric car club social business in Camden to provide a low-cost alternative to private vehicle ownership for businesses and residents.
• Encourage and aid businesses to set up cycle to work/ cycle delivery schemes and add bike racks across Borough.
• Encourage businesses to provide green screening/ planting to buildings.
iv) Measures Camden Council can require from its contractors
• Require carbon reductions from contractors, e.g. move to using only electric vehicles, use of renewable energy systems in their buildings, business-wide recycling and ban of single-use plastics.
• Require that contractors and suppliers adopt an ethical procurement framework to ensure that they reduce their carbon footprint, use renewable materials, etc.
• Ban use of Glyphosate and toxic pesticides.
v) Council engagement with partners
• Convene a group of senior officials and political leaders from the GLA and neighbouring boroughs to identify areas where collective action is needed to deliver the requisite changes in energy, transport and procurement practices, including changes in the legal framework.
• Work with the GLA and neighbouring boroughs to develop innovative ways of financing and managing locally produced renewable energy projects, including the use of waste to generate biogas and municipal heating systems.
• Work with local further education colleges to develop new training courses for people to fill new work roles (e.g. insulation experts and inspectors for retrofitting housing stock, renewable energy engineers, etc).
• Lobby the City of London Corporation to immediately all replace fossil fuel service vehicles on Hampstead Heath with electric vehicles and to increase free biodiversity educational programmes for Camden school children and other residents.
NOTE: Climate Emergency Camden will review and update this Action Plan on a six-monthly basis to take into account good practice and innovation across the UK and internationally as public bodies and the private sector increasingly address the global climate and environmental crisis.