Wandsworth Climate Emergency – Time to get real and get going

Wandsworth Council has declared a climate emergency and is committed to becoming net carbon neutral by 2030 and zero carbon by 2050.

It has recently published its environment and sustainability strategy 2019-2030 and action plan.  Do the transport proposals in the action plan measure up?

Small changes can make a big difference: urban gardening Small-scale planting, even in February, can brighten up our streets. Example of community action led by Greening the Grid, Southfields

How big is the task?

In order to achieve its headline targets, Wandsworth needs to deliver cuts in emissions averaging a minimum of 12.7% reduction per year.  If it continues with business as usual, the borough will use its 80-year carbon budget (2020-2100) in the next 7 years.

Approximately 28% of the borough’s current CO2 emissions are from transport. Determined action in this area could make a big difference in a short time.

What’s in the plan?

The plan has no interim targets for CO2 emission reductions, so it is difficult to tell what the impact will be.

Wandsworth proposes a number of actions on transport, but most of these are rated only as ‘low’ or ‘enabling’ for CO2.  So, it is highly unlikely that the plan will deliver CO2 emission reductions at the scale and speed needed.

More needs to be done – sooner rather than later

10 years is a short time to get this done, so the action plan needs to be a LOT more ambitious.

Luckily measures to promote active travel are high value, low cost and good for our health and the local economy: A win-win for everyone.

Zebra crossings are a relatively low-cost intervention – this is a nice example of a zebra located on a pedestrian ‘desire line. More of these, please!

What can Wandsworth do?

Wandsworth can make big changes using existing powers and technology.  We urge the council to:

  • Learn from others: Many cities and other London boroughs are making these changes already. We applaud the Council’s efforts in its environment and sustainability strategy to discuss initiatives and ideas with other authorities and agencies, and encourage the Council to keep looking outwards for examples of success, and to bring them to Wandsworth.


  • Focus on outcomes, not process: Reducing CO2 emissions is what matters, not how many actions you have. Set targets based on emission reductions, use evidence, and focus on interventions likely to have biggest impact. The Manchester climate change action plan is an example of what is required.


  • Engage with residents and lead with confidence: All change raises anxiety and dissent, and this won’t be any different. Expect a bumpy ride, but this is so important that you need to energise and carry people with you. You can be confident that when people experience the benefits, they will come on board as they have elsewhere. We highlight Camden’s approach as an example of good practice in involving citizens.


  • Use existing powers to get things moving, and remove unnecessary barriers to change: For example, use experimental traffic orders to pilot schemes to promote walking and cycling. Develop a kerbside strategy for the borough, with a view to reallocating kerb space to community, environmental and social uses such as parklets, bike hangars, sustainable urban drainage.

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What driver privilege looks like in practice Flared ‘bell-mouth’ carpark entry, to Sainsbury’s on Garratt Lane in Wandsworth town centre, encourages motorists to turn at speed into the car park, increasing danger to passing pedestrians and cyclists and damaging street furniture.
Conspicuous consumption at large on our streets Cars take up a great deal of space, whether parked or moving. We’d like to see Wandsworth discourage large, heavy (this one’s over 2 tonnes), overpowered (this one’s over 250 horsepower) cars on our crowded streets, via differential parking charges.