Q&A with London Borough of Ealing

‘We will launch our new climate and ecological emergency strategy in January 2021’ — Climate Action Programme Manager, Jo Mortensen, shares Ealing’s initiatives to become carbon neutral by 2030.

What Net Zero targets have LB Ealing set?

In April of 2019, Ealing Council unanimously supported a motion to declare a climate emergency and vowed to become carbon neutral by 2030 – as an organisation and a borough.

What barriers are you facing to achieve this goal and what are your core strategies to achieve these targets?

Funding and sphere of influence. While there is much organisational support to reach this ambitious target, because of budget cuts, reaching goals mean a wholesale re-think of existing budgets to make sure that every penny spent, and every policy created upholds our climate commitments. We are also looking at funding opportunities that can support us.

We also need to influence others as even if our organisation reaches the neutral target, the emissions the council is directly responsible for only add up to 5-10% of borough emissions. So that is where our strategy engages with residents and businesses to help us get to our net zero carbon target.

What new processes and policy changes have you had to put in place, to tackle the climate agenda?

We will launch our new climate and ecological emergency strategy in January 2021.

All new council owned housing will be designed to be certified Passivhaus from this year – a first step in delivering zero carbon housing. We are turning our fleet vehicles electric – and supporting teams to cycle around the borough. we are committing to building high quality cycle lanes, so to grow our cycling community. We want every journey under two-miles in the borough to be done on foot or by bike.

Our parks team continue to refine management practices that support biodiversity and capture more carbon, while building excellent community links. Our waste and recycling team is reshaping our message on waste, to prioritise waste reduction and view any residual waste as a resource. It’s really happening all over the organisation – people want to contribute to this agenda in a big and meaningful way.

The government recently released its ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, which majors on enabling a green economy and green jobs.  How is this likely to impact Ealing? What points in the plan are most aligned with Ealing’s existing plans? 

In September, the recommendations of the UK’s first Climate Assembly were released. The assembly was made up of over 100 citizens, representing “all walks of life” who spent time learning about the key decisions that unlock the zero-carbon target, and then were asked for recommendations that would help the government create solutions.

Some of these solutions have turned up in the 10-point plan, such as bringing forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030. These national policies help us to take bolder actions to shift our residents and businesses to think differently about personal transport and other aspects of their lives. Our transport team is leading here, with the trial of a free cargo bike delivery service for businesses in the run-up to Christmas. Our electric vehicle charging point network is also becoming future ready; by March we will have installed 280 points in the borough since 2018. 

Critically, the 10-point plan will help create jobs. At Ealing the Economic Growth team has been developing Ealing’s Economic Recovery and Renewal plan. This includes the potential of the “green economy” – the sector supporting climate action and sustainability – including jobs in nature conservation and materials recovery as well as technology, construction and energy efficiency.

West London Business has launched its first retrofit academy, training tradespeople to become masters of new construction techniques that every building in the nation will demand in the coming decades. Our residents will benefit from these upgrades, thanks to the Green Homes Grant awarded to our West London partnership in October.

The borough will see hundreds of homes receive deep retrofits that reduce both energy use, carbon emissions and costs – helping bring Ealing closer to being carbon neutral.