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Our commitment to becoming carbon neutral

Tackling climate change

Westminster has declared a climate emergency – our commitment to becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030 and carbon neutral city by 2040. Urgent action is needed to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5° Celsius, to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Westminster has some of the highest carbon emissions and worst air pollution in the UK. However, council emissions account for only 2% of emissions, with 71% from non-domestic buildings, 15% from homes, and 11% from transport.

The ambitious level of change required to meet this target will affect almost every aspect of our daily lives. We want to work in partnership with everyone who lives, works or studies in Westminster to create a greener, cleaner and healthier City for All.

Climate action plan

Westminster has some of the highest carbon emissions and worst air pollution in the UK. In response, we have set a target for the City to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Our draft Climate Action Plan sets out comprehensive recommendations for reducing carbon emissions across the City, working in partnership with businesses, communities and residents. 

To produce these recommendations, the council worked with sustainability consultants Anthesis Environmental to identify the impact of different types of carbon saving actions. Over the past year we have engaged with local businesses, residents, and community groups on these recommendations and are now using your feedback and ideas to help shape a shared Climate Action Plan for Westminster.

Read more about the recommendations below.

Co-creating our climate action plan

The council has worked with sustainability consultants Anthesis Environmental to identify the impact of different types of carbon saving actions.

We’ve used this information to create a series of recommended actions under four themes:

  • people and communities;
  • organisations and economy;
  • buildings and energy
  • movement and places.

You can read a summary of our recommendations and how they have been produced, or our full draft action plan, in these documents.

Summary of CAP Actions

Read a summary of the key actions set out in the plan below. See our CAP document for the full list of actions

A new large boiler being installed by a crane on a housing estate

Westminster is densely populated with 114 people per hectare – almost double the London average.

The city is home to 121,000 residential properties and 55,000 businesses, ranging from large multi-national organisations to small and micro businesses. Collectively, Westminster’s buildings account for 86% of emissions – by far the most significant source in the city.

Our main priority is to improve building efficiency and deliver energy cost savings.

Some of our main actions are:

  • by 2040, retrofit our social housing estate, targeting an average Energy Performance Certificate Band B rating, prioritising those homes heated from communal supplies by 2030
  • by 2022, cut emissions from our corporate estate by retrofitting up to 70 properties, targeting 20% emissions reductions, and set out our plans to decarbonise the wider estate
  • in 2022, establish a dedicated online platform for residents to provide information and advice on climate change, energy efficiency and wider sustainability opportunities
  • by 2024, launch an expanded 'Green Homes’ advice service to provide direct support to residents, prioritising the vulnerable and those in fuel poverty, to help improve the energy efficiency of their homes and cut energy costs
  • lobby central Government for further resource to support wholescale retrofitting of Westminster’s buildings
Solar panels

The high energy demand of Westminster’s dense built environment makes the city a prime location for local (decentralised) low carbon energy networks and offers significant potential for emissions savings through the expansion of alternative, clean energy sources. 

Our main priority is to increase availability, affordability and use of low and zero carbon energy

Some of our main actions are:

  • in 2022, develop and agree a Clean Energy Strategy for the Pimlico District Heat Undertaking (PDHU), and for our social housing estate by 2023
  • by 2030, deliver our PDHU and social housing estate Clean Energy Strategies, achieving significant carbon savings
  • by 2023, undertake a feasibility assessment of clean and renewable energy opportunities across Westminster to inform a Local Area Energy Plan, enabling local low carbon energy expansion
  • mobilise funding and support to enable residents, organisations, and local communities to install and use renewable energy technologies
  • lobby Government to mobilise funding for the decarbonisation and expansion of local low carbon heat networks, enabling a transition from natural gas to low carbon (electrified) heat sources
Electric vehicle green sign

Over 250,000 tonnes of carbon are produced by transport in Westminster – around 12% of the city’s total emissions.

On-road transport is the largest source, as well as presenting significant health risks as a major contributor to local air pollution. The reduction of motorised transport offers a clear opportunity for achieving environmental and health co-benefits.

Our main priority is to cut transport-based sources of emissions and air pollution

Some of our main actions are:

  • deliver a rolling programme of cycling improvements across the city to improve and connect to the London-wide Cycleways network, including 23km of new additional cycle lanes between 2024-26
  • by 2022, expand the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure to 1,500 charge points in total across the city, including 30 additional rapid chargers for delivery vehicles, maintaining a long-term ratio of one EV charge point to 7-8 electric vehicle across all wards
  • in 2022 deliver charging infrastructure at our Landmann Way Depot to enable electrification of Westminster’s waste fleet vehicles, powered by Westminster’s own waste, upgrading the residential waste vehicle fleet (40 vehicles) to electric by 2022 and the remaining, commercial waste fleet by 2025
  • expand the availability of and access to car clubs in the city, ensuring all car club vehicles are fully electric by 2030

The City of Westminster generates almost 200,000 tonnes of municipal waste per year (2018/19), with an above average amount of waste per person.

Our consumption emissions, those linked to purchased products and services rather than direct activities, are above the London average, and among the highest emissions per resident in the capital.

Our main priority is to reduce waste, increase recycling, and promote sustainable consumption

Some of our main actions are:

  • in 2022, adopt and implement our new Responsible Procurement Strategy to cut supply chain emissions, prioritising those from our top 10 highest-spend contracts, and bring together suppliers, partners, and our business community to share our learning and promote the approach
  • maintain our first-class refuse collection service while exploring new approaches to sustainable, low carbon waste management, by:
    • expanding the residential food waste collection across the whole borough in 2022
    • replacing some household non-recycling waste collections with additional recycling and food waste collections
    • improving our data on recycling trends, trialling new technologies, innovations and behaviour change techniques
    • expanding our recycling streams to include soft plastics by 2026/27
  • by 2022, develop a Green Economy Strategy to help accelerate the transition to a low carbon circular economy
Victoria Embankment Gardens

Westminster is home to some of the UK’s most famous and well-known parks and green spaces, comprising some 200 open spaces (both public and private) across the city.

Green spaces, trees and other natural features have a significant role in acting as a carbon “sink” to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere and play an important role in supporting biodiversity, improved air quality and adaptation benefits.

Our main priority is to enhance the natural environment and ensure the city is resilient to climate change impacts

Some of our main actions are:

  • maintain, plant, and protect our trees to support a long-term increase in tree canopy cover, targeting a 10% increase of existing cover by 2050, in line with Greater London Authority targets
  • inspire residents, communities, and organisations to increase tree planting on private land in support of the ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’ campaign for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022
  • by 2023, undertake an assessment of Westminster's green and open spaces to inform a Green Infrastructure Strategy
  • by 2023, develop a Climate Adaptation Plan, based on an understanding of climate-related risks, and local and national climate adaptation activity, to protect Westminster’s vulnerable people, businesses, services, and assets from changes in climate and extreme weather events