Merton Greens respond to the Council's Local Plan 2021 to 2036

1 January 2021

The Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and committed to making direct council services carbon neutral by 2030, with the aim of the borough as a whole meeting the target by 2050.  The Green Party acknowledges the ambitious climate change policy set by the council, particularly pertaining to development and building regulations. However, we have identified notable room for improvement through placing climate policy at the heart of all other policies, adopting joined up thinking in order to identify opportunities for synergy across multiple challenge areas, and generally striving for a holistic, inspiring and sustainable vision for Merton.

The local plan is the plan to take us to 2036, 6 years after the moment currently judged to be the year by which we must have made drastic change in order to avoid the planet warming by over 1.5 degrees.  Recent reports have shown that we may be accelerating towards a number of climate tipping points.  An example is “Ice albedo”: as the white ice melts into dark sea which absorbs rather than reflects heat the white ice will melt more rapidly.

We believe the plan should be a plan to take the borough as a whole to carbon neutrality by 2030, with ambitious targets to protect and nurture green spaces and wildlife, prioritising the beneficial impact upon climate change of trees and green spaces and increasing canopy cover 10% by 2030 rather than 2050; to reduce energy use, to reduce motor vehicle travel, and encourage a circular economy. We implore the council to expand their working understanding of the circular economy to include all resources, and not just carbon. We ask that Merton council consider the feasibility of revising the split 2030/2050 target.

It is very disappointing to note that there is no reference to tackling the climate emergency in the foreword and introduction to the document, suggesting climate policy to be no more than a piecemeal addition rather than the heart and soul of a vital paradigm change.

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