Kingston Council launches Sustainable September to tackle climate change and increase environmental awareness
Today sees the start of Sustainable September, a month of activities hosted, supported and promoted by Kingston Council to get people talking about climate change and inspire them to take action.
Activities include bat walks, nature walks, energy talks, nature arts and crafts sessions, Dr Bike checkups, webinars and more. Full details of what’s taking place and how to take part are on the Sustainable September events page - all activities are free to attend.
In March 2022 the council’s Climate Action Plan was published, setting out its commitment to making council operations carbon neutral by 2030 while helping the wider borough to become carbon neutral by 2038.
Councillor Ian Manders, Portfolio Holder for Climate Action and Sustainable Transport, said:
“Tackling climate change and protecting the natural environment is one of the key priorities for the council. Protecting communities and helping the borough thrive and flourish against the backdrop of a changing climate is at the heart of what we’re trying to achieve in the borough of Kingston.
“While we, and indeed the entire planet, are faced with the challenges this presents, we are also provided with opportunities to rethink how we deliver services in a way which can have multiple benefits.
“The huge rise in energy prices, due to Russia cutting energy exports to aid its invasion of Ukraine, shows how vulnerable we all are to supplies of oil and gas. The need to produce more renewable energy, and live a greener, less wasteful life, has never been more necessary. And the COVID lockdown showed how much we appreciate and benefit from our parks and wildlife.
“Sustainable September provides an opportunity for residents to come together with experts, to think about climate change, its impacts and how we can each play a role in protecting our borough.”
Read about some of the work the council is undertaking, below.
The council and its partners have started work to drive down emissions that contribute to climate change - including starting to decarbonise the council’s fleet, working with the business community to help them transition to a green economy and exploration of a district heating network in Kingston. While carbon reductions are at the core of the Climate Action Plan, the work will bring a number of other positive outcomes for the borough.
Reduced NHS costs, better housing, better transport and a reduction in poverty and inequality can all be achieved by adopting sustainable green energy.
In partnership with Thames Water, the council aims to create a low-carbon district heat network of proven technology as part of the Cambridge Road Estate regeneration. As well as heating homes on the estate, it would provide affordable heating to other local buildings so they can drastically cut their gas consumption.
Against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, the council is helping support some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents through its Warm Homes Better Health scheme, providing free advice and energy saving measures to those eligible. It also backs the Mayor of London’s Warmer Homes scheme, which awards grants to eligible homeowners or tenants to make energy and carbon saving improvements at home.
Work is underway to decarbonise the council’s vehicle fleet, with the Estate Services and Community Library teams already having swapped diesel vans for electric versions that are used each day to deliver essential services to residents. In the near future, Kingston will have one of the first council electric waste collection lorry fleets, which will improve air quality by taking the equivalent of 450 cars off the road each year and reduce the associated greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.
There has also been an increase in electric vehicle charging points across the borough, ahead of the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030. Many of the locations of the electric vehicle chargers have been chosen by residents through engagement on the council’s Let’s Talk website - thank you to everyone who has contributed to the discussions.
The council has started to replace the borough's old street lamps with modern LEDs, which use less than half the electricity of the old lamps while being cheaper to run and requiring less maintenance.
The borough’s walking and cycling network aims to give those who live, work, study in, or visit the borough the option to travel without a car, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality. While protecting the environment it also helps people to make healthier travel choices in their day-to-day lives by increasing physical activity. A safer environment also gives more freedom to older children and young people to travel independently.
Kingston is part of the London-wide ‘School Streets’ initiative to help keep children and their families safe by limiting motor vehicle access around the school gates at pick up and drop off time. This reduces air pollution and supports active travel by allowing children to walk, cycle or scoot to school safely - and there are plans for more School Streets to be introduced across the borough in the coming year.
As part of shaping a green future for the borough, the council is working in partnership with Kingston Chamber of Commerce to help businesses grow and adapt by transitioning to a green economy.
In the near future, a Green Business Community initiative will be launched, providing a forum for businesses and organisations that are committed to reducing their environmental impact and promoting sustainability in pursuit of environmental excellence, business growth and innovation. This follows a series of THINK GREEN webinars, which are helping businesses transition to a green economy and helping them thrive.
While supporting communities is at the heart of everything the council does, it is also working to become a leading borough in protecting and enhancing the natural environment.
Across the borough, the council’s heritage-led regeneration schemes have a strong focus on improving sustainability and protecting the environment. We also work with developers to ensure all regeneration in the borough meets high sustainability standards.
Kingston’s new community leisure complex will significantly improve upon the environmental performance of the previous Kingfisher. It will encourage sustainable methods of transport with cycle storage and cycle and pedestrian routes through the site and use high performance glazing, amongst other measures. The new public plaza, with its wider landscape and ecological improvements, will also help retain the important natural heritage.
The council has been working with Cube, the developer delivering Unilever’s new headquarters in Kingston, to further improve the environmental credentials of that scheme - including reducing the CO2 associated with the build, halving the number of lorry journeys, and minimising the energy requirements of the buildings.
Regular nature walks and talks take place, engaging hundreds of people each year, and community partnership work, such as the London Zoological Society’s London Hogwatch programme, and Field Studies Council Recorder Days connect residents with the borough’s nature, highlighting the importance of protecting it from climate change.
The council looks after over 12,000 trees in Kingston’s parks and green spaces and later this year will begin planting hundreds more to encourage biodiversity to flourish. Look out for opportunities to help shape the tree planting on the council’s social media and Kingston Let’s Talk website.
In tandem with the council’s tree planting work, its WildWay sites and RBS Pollinator Friendly Certified BioBeds are helping to improve wildflower and pollinator numbers in the borough. The council is also working with community groups and volunteers across the borough, on projects to improve natural habitats in their local area.
The council hopes that Sustainable September will connect communities across the borough and highlight ways in which everyone can take part in tackling climate change and protecting Kingston.
For more information about the council’s plans to tackle climate change, visit kingston.gov.uk/climate.