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.

Harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) trap heat in the atmosphere and cause extreme global temperatures that impact us all.

If everyone works together, we can make big changes.

We are creating a climate emergency action plan for Westminster and we want to hear your views and ideas. Read on to discover what’s already being done and how you can contribute.

The first virtual Open Forum took place on Monday 26 October, with the main part of the discussion focused on the theme of the environment, including the climate emergency. You can watch a recording of the event here.

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Westminster has some of the highest carbon emissions in the UK, producing 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018, and some of the worst air pollution in the UK.

Most of this is generated from the energy used to heat and power buildings such as offices, hotels, homes and shops, as well as transport.

Westminster is an area of high water-stress. Rising global temperatures could cause water shortages during more frequent episodes of extreme heat and increase flood risk during wetter winters.

We must look at ways to deliver a greener, cleaner and healthier city, resilient to climate change impacts.

70% of people living in Westminster try to use less energy.

45% have bought electricity from a green energy supplier.

A carbon neutral city by 2040

The terms ‘net zero’ or ‘carbon neutral’ mean achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere, from activities like planting trees that help absorb emissions.

Westminster City Council is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions from council buildings and services by 2030 and are working with our suppliers to make big changes.

We are creating a robust action plan to make Westminster carbon neutral by 2040, and hope that businesses, residents and communities will work with us to make it a reality. These plans will build on work already underway to reduce emissions and improve air quality across the City. We have allocated an initial £5 million for future projects as part of our commitment.

Local climate projects

Have your say on climate change
Businesses and workplaces
Homes and communities
Low carbon energy
Travel and transport
Waste and consumption

Help us create a climate emergency action plan

We are gathering information about our carbon emissions to create a Climate Emergency Action Plan around 5 key themes: 

  • businesses and workplaces
  • homes and communities
  • low carbon energy
  • travel and transport
  • waste and consumption

We will work with residents and businesses to help shape this action plan through events and community conversations, so that you can share your feedback and highlight the areas that matter to you.

To begin these discussions, we would like to hear your ideas about what can be done to tackle climate change in Westminster.

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Businesses and workplaces

75% of Westminster’s energy demand is from buildings including offices, hotels and shops. We are home to the headquarters of many international businesses and commercial organisations, and support visitors and employees in addition to Westminster residents.

We are already...

  • improving the environmental performance of council buildings, including City Hall and our libraries  
  • enforcing Minimum Energy Efficiency standards in commercial premises
  • encouraging corporate social responsibility in local businesses through the Westminster Lions and Heart of the City programmes
  • updating our procurement and green vehicle policies to reduce emissions from contractors

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Homes and communities

There are 120,000 homes in Westminster that account for 16% of carbon dioxide emissions. Westminster is an area of water and energy stress due to high demand. Our recycling rate is 23%, which is low compared to 33% in the rest of London and 43.5% in the UK.

What you eat, buy and wear and how often you fly can have a big impact on the climate.

We are already...

  • reviewing the frequency of residential and commercial waste collections to encourage higher recycling rates and reduce emissions from waste service vehicles
  • trialling food waste collections for 7,500 homes across Westminster
  • increasing the number of trees, green roofs and living walls to help increase carbon absorption and improve air quality
  • supporting energy improvements in social housing such as heating and boiler support through the Home Improvement Agency

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Low carbon energy

Commercial gas and electricity CO2 emissions account for 69% of emissions in Westminster, with domestic fuel contributing 16% and transport 15%. There is a huge demand on central London’s energy infrastructure. Buildings with lower energy requirements and those that use energy generated from low carbon sources or clean renewable technologies can reduce this strain.

In 2025 gas heating will be banned from new homes.

We are already...

  • investing £1.3 million in 124 solar power systems for social housing
  • Incorporating sustainable measures into new developments such as the Ebury Bridge regeneration scheme, including renewable energy supplies
  • considering how to upgrade and expand local heat networks to deliver lower carbon energy

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Travel and transport

Traffic is responsible for 15% of Westminster’s carbon emissions and more than half of the city’s nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution emissions. Walking is the already the most popular mode of transport in Westminster, four times higher than the London average. Westminster has one of the lowest levels of car ownership in London.

Deliveries and commercial waste collection are responsible for up to 20% of traffic on our roads and just under 15% of road transport NO2 emissions.

We are already...

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Waste and consumption

195,000 tonnes of waste are produced in Westminster every year; enough to fill the Albert Hall 26 times over. Our recycling rates are low compared to other London boroughs and the rest of the country at 23% compared to 33% in London and 43.5% in the UK. Consuming less, selecting more environmentally friendly goods and materials, and minimising the waste we produce can have a big impact on Westminster’s emissions.

We are already...

  • reviewing the frequency of residential, commercial waste and general waste collections to encourage higher recycling rates and reduce emissions from waste collection vehicles
  • sending zero waste to landfill and generating low carbon heat and energy from residual waste
  • trialling food waste collections for 7,500 homes across Westminster
  • trialling the use of 2 ‘upcycled’ electric waste collection vehicles – converting them from diesel to electric-powered

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Air quality is the number one concern for local people

Our Air Quality Action plan sets out the steps we will take to reduce the NO2 and particulate emissions that cause local air pollution.

We’re undertaking over 90 actions across 5 key themes:

  1. Monitoring air quality
  2. Reducing emissions from transport
  3. Reducing emissions from buildings and new developments
  4. Raising awareness
  5. Lobbying and partnership working

Reduce your carbon impact

Consider a carbon-friendly diet

Meat and dairy production provide just 18% of calories, but produce 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and use 83% of the world’s farmland. Eating less meat and dairy in favour of protein from beans and pulses can reduce your environmental impact and have health benefits.

Save energy

Insulating lofts, walls and draft-proofing windows and doors reduces energy bills or consider switching to a green energy tariff if you can.

Find out more about home heating and insulation

Reduce your travel emissions

Walk or cycle if possible, use public transport or consider driving an electric car. We have installed 450 electric vehicle charging points across the city and you can request a charging point in a lamp post near to you. You can also try out our car club scheme.

Find out more about responsible travel

Cycling in Westminster

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Making new products uses a lot of energy, creates carbon emissions, depletes natural resources and impacts on the natural environment. Reduce, reuse and recycle by buying less and looking for low carbon options in everything you consume. 

How to reuse or recycle your household items

How businesses can improve their recycling

Help us create a climate emergency action plan

We're creating a climate emergency action plan for Westminster and want to hear your views and ideas.

Have your say