We are a group of community organisations calling on Bromley Council to:
– Declare a climate emergency
– Produce a plan to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all activities across the borough, by 2050 at the very latest

Scroll down to read our open letter and add your support for stronger climate action in London Borough of Bromley

Image: John Gaffen / Alamy. Warren Avenue Playing Field looking towards Ravensmead Rd and Ravensbourne Ave.

OPEN LETTER
19 April 2022

To Bromley Council leader Cllr Colin Smith, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Community Services Cllr William Huntington-Thresher, elected councillors and candidates for the May 2022 election,

Climate change poses major risks to our economy and wellbeing in the coming decades. The current government aims to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy by 2050, and they have made it clear that this is not solely the job of central government, stating:

We will take a coordinated approach, working across local and national government, and with business and civil society organisations. And we will make it easier and fairer for individuals, businesses and households to decarbonise, so that our whole society can work together to reduce emissions’ (BEIS, 2021, p11).

It is crucially important that Bromley Council takes climate action seriously to ensure that current and future residents of Bromley will have the opportunity to prosper. Bromley Council owns most of the roads and public spaces across the borough, and has oversight of waste management, social housing and environmental management. The council has a responsibility to use these powers and responsibilities to make it easier, safer and more affordable for residents and businesses to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

Bromley Council already has a target for net-zero emissions by 2027, however this only covers emissions produced by the Council organisation, accounting for less than 1% of borough-wide emissions1. The Council’s stated position is that:

We are demonstrating our leadership in this area and setting an example. However, it is for property owners, businesses and residents to take responsibility for their property and lifestyle and progressively make changes to achieve net-zero2

We believe that this position is inadequate. As a local authority, Bromley Council has a key role to play in decarbonising local transport, waste and social housing3. Other borough councils across London have introduced targets for net-zero emissions: Greenwich have committed to become a carbon-neutral borough by 2030, and Westminster have committed to reach net-zero emissions across the borough by 2040.

Will you support our call for Bromley Council to declare a climate emergency and commit to setting a target for reaching net-zero emissions for all activities across the borough?

Please indicate your response in a public statement, circulated on social media channels.

These commitments are critical steps to demonstrate Bromley Council’s responsibility to protect the environment and commitment to govern for the benefit of current and future generations. As community, advocacy or faith-based groups we are committed to take action on climate change. We invite you to work with us to achieve the change that is needed across the borough.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the strategies and solutions that could be employed to help Bromley achieve net-zero emissions in the coming decades.

Signed,
Al-Emaan Centre
Beckenham United Reformed Church
Bigfoot Cycling Club
Bromley Cyclists
Bromley Living Streets
Bromley YouthStrike4Climate
Christ Church United Reformed Church, Petts Wood
Crystal Palace Community Trust
Downe Primary School
Friends of Cator Park & Alexandra Recreation Ground
Friends of Green Street Green Common
Friends of Orpington Priory & Gardens
Park Langley Residents’ Association
St Francis Church, Petts Wood
St John’s Church, West Wickham
Action Vision Zero
London Living Streets
Mums for Lungs
20’s Plenty For Us

1. As stated in the Council’s 2019 CO2 Emissions Performance Report (page 7, box 2.2): https://www.bromley.gov.uk/downloads/file/6824/co2_emissions_local_authorities_2019_performance_report Accessed 27 February 2022

2. Bromley Council Environment Committee Meeting, 1 September 2021. Response to written question 8: https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=127&MId=7150&Ver=4
3. Local government and net zero in England. National Audit Office. HC 304, July 2021.

ADD YOUR NAME TO THE LETTER

If you lead a community organisation, business, school, church or faith-based group and would like to add your organisation’s name to the letter, please email us at walkthetalkbromley@gmail.com

If you would like to add your name to the letter as an individual, please click the link below to sign the letter via openletter.earth. We are using an external platform for individual signatures to ensure that GDPR privacy regulations are adhered to:
Open letter to Bromley Council: Declare a climate emergency and produce a plan to reach net-zero emissions for all activities across the borough
Please note – the platform will send you a confirmation email to validate your email address, check your spam folder if this doesn’t appear in your Inbox.

Please consider sharing this letter on social media to spread the word to other residents, businesses and community organisations.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is it necessary to declare a climate emergency and set targets to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in Bromley?

Climate change is already happening and it poses a major risk to prosperity, wellbeing and the local environment in Bromley, for current and future generations.

There is scientific consensus that human activities are responsible for global warming, and if there is not urgent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions it puts current and future generations at risk. The increased risks of extreme weather, such as heatwaves or flooding (as pictured on the right) will affect Bromley residents directly, impacting on their health, wellbeing and causing damage to property.

Flooding in Homesdale Road, Bromley.
Image: News Shopper.

Climate change is a collective problem
Transitioning to a net-zero economy and changing the way we live will require all of us – individuals, families, community groups, businesses and the government – to come together and do what we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The scale of the challenge is daunting, but there is already evidence that change is possible. The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 51% since 1990, largely driven by cleaner industrial processes and less reliance on coal. However, progress has been slower to reduce reliance on gas and reduce emissions from transport.

Commitments and clear targets matter
Targets to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and plans that set out how these targets will be reached, are crucial to signal Bromley Council’s commitment to households, local businesses and community organisations. For example, many households may be considering switching to an electric vehicle to reduce their carbon emissions. However, without the confidence that Bromley Council will deliver adequate EV charging facilities, and a clear timeframe for when this will happen, households face too much uncertainty over whether an EV would be a good investment.

Doesn’t Bromley Council already have a target to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions?

Yes – but the current target only covers a tiny share of total greenhouse gas emissions across the borough. Bromley Council’s target to reach net-zero emissions covers the council organisation’s emissions only. As shown below, data from 2018 indicates that the council organisation’s emissions only accounts for ~2.5% of the total emissions across the borough. There is currently no target, and no plan, to reduce borough-wide emissions (the pie chart on the left). We are asking the council to take responsibility for their role in enabling and encouraging emissions reductions for all activities across the borough.
Further reading: Bromley Council Net Zero Action Plan performance reports.

Will it really make a difference if Bromley Council declares a climate emergency?

In short – yes. In 2019 a large number of governments, local authorities, public institutions and even the Pope declared a climate emergency. A study of 237 UK local authorities found that these commitments led to stronger action. Local authorities that declared a climate emergency were more likely to…
1. Increase their ambitions, bringing forward the dates for their carbon reduction targets.
2. Develop a holistic plan for climate action and public engagement.
3. Work in collaboration with local communities on climate action.
4. Call for national governments to provide more enabling powers and resources to take action locally.


OTHER CALLS FOR ACTION IN ADVANCE OF THE MAY ELECTION

Other groups have asked for candidates to consider making pledges to support policies for safer walking and cycling, reduced air pollution and a more sustainable future. You can email your candidates to ask them to support these pledges – follow the links below.

Which ward am I in and who can I vote for? Click here to find your ward, candidates and voting information

Bromley Cyclists – Climate Safe Streets
Bromley Cyclists, the local chapter of London Cycling Campaign, has asked all candidates for the local elections to pledge to develop and implement an active travel strategy designed to greatly increase the share of cycling as a mode of travel in Bromley, and to commit to a target of 5% of trips by 2026/27, compared to the current figure of around 1.8%. Candidates for Bromley Labour, Bromley Lib Dems, Bromley Green Part and independent Chislehurst Matters have all pledged their commitment, but the Conservatives have not. If you go to Climate Safe Streets in Bromley you can register your support with a few clicks.

Mums for Lungs – Four Election ‘Asks’
Mums for Lungs, a charity campaigning for cleaner air, have set out four ‘asks’ for councils to take stronger action on Clean Air. So far, Bromley Lib Dems have pledged their support for these asks.

London Living Streets – A Vision for Walking in London
Living Streets, a charity for safe and vibrant streets for walking, have asked candidates to support policies that will make streets safer for walking for all abilities and ages. See here: A Vision for Walking in London.