Lambeth Citizens Assembly on Climate Change

Lambeth is funding an independent citizens assembly on climate change, to come together and work towards a consensus to reduce the borough’s carbon emissions.

Status: 
In delivery

In January 2019 the Lambeth Council became the first local authority in London, and one of the first in the country, to declare a climate emergency. We brought forward our target for making the operations of the council carbon neutral to 2030.

However, we know that only reducing the Council’s carbon emissions is not enough, every organisation and household in Lambeth needs to take action for the borough to become carbon neutral. Last summer, Cllr Claire Holland, Deputy Leader (Environment and Clean Air) announced that the council would fund a citizens’ assembly on climate change, so that residents, business, the council and some of the borough’s biggest institutions like hospital trusts and universities, could come together and work towards a consensus to reduce the borough’s carbon emissions.

The Assembly will be funded by the council but organised by independent experts. They will help to make sure the assembly is presented with a range of unbiased evidence and help the assembly to produce a clear set of a set of recommendations for the borough to reduce carbon emissions to net zero.

What is a citizens assembly?

A citizens’ assembly is a group of people who are brought together to discuss an issue or issues and reach a conclusion about what they think should happen. The people who take part are chosen so they reflect the wider population – in terms of demographics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, social class) and sometimes relevant attitudes (e.g. preferences for a small or large state).

Citizens’ assemblies give members of the public the time and opportunity to learn about and discuss a topic, before reaching conclusions. Assembly participants are asked to make trade-offs and arrive at workable recommendations.

Participants are recruited randomly and are broadly representative of the population.

How will the Citizen’s Assembly work?

The Citizen’s Assembly will take place in Spring 2020, with all sessions finished by the end of June 2020.

The assembly will be made up of a randomly selected and representative group of Lambeth citizens. The independent organisers will make sure that the assembly hears evidence from different groups, including climate experts, local campaigns and innovative organisations who will share evidence about the impact of climate change and ideas about how Lambeth can become carbon neutral.

The draft set of objectives for the assembly are to…

  • raise levels of understanding about the impact of climate change on Lambeth
  • increase understanding about the differential impacts of climate change on Lambeth’s communities and to bring this to bear in policy development
  • engage partners, stakeholders and businesses, increasing their understanding of the impact of climate change on Lambeth’s communities and the role they might play in mitigating this
  • understand the priority areas for citizens in reducing carbon emissions
  • explore the trade-offs involved in reducing carbon emissions and how this might affect support for carbon reduction measures, and the principles we should apply to developing carbon reduction policy
  • develop a set of recommendations for the borough to reduce carbon emissions to net zero

How you can get involved

In addition to the Assembly, we will be asking people from all over Lambeth to share their ideas with us and each other, so that we can all start to build a consensus around the actions that need to be taken. This will include a place online where you can submit your ideas.

We will be publicising opportunities for people to get involved all over Lambeth. To be notified when we launch this, sign up to our mailing list below.

The recommendations of the Assembly, along with the results of this engagement will be fed into a borough-wide carbon reduction plan for Lambeth, to be published later in 2020.

What is climate change and what does it mean for Lambeth?

Climate change is the long-term shift in average weather patterns around the world. Climate change is caused by human activities that contribute to release carbon dioxide and other powerful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases cause global temperatures to rise, resulting in long-term changes to the climate.

More information around sources of greenhouse gases and climate change on the Met Office website.

Among the activities that contribute to climate change are burning fossil fuels (e.g. to produce energy, for commercial and personal transport, to produce goods), agriculture, deforestation.

How is climate change affecting Lambeth?

The latest climate change projections for the South-East of England, and London in particular, show that due to climate change:

  • Summers will become hotter and drier;
  • Winters will become milder and wetter;
  • Soils will become drier on average;
  • Snowfall and the number of very cold days will decrease;
  • Sea and rivers will rise; and
  • Storms, heavy and extreme rainfall, and extreme winds will become more frequent.

In Lambeth, climate change will primarily lead to:

  • increased risk of flooding
  • intensification of the urban heat island effect
  • increased air pollution.

Increased risk of flooding

According to the Environment Agency, by the year 2050, rainfall intensity will increase by 20% compared to 1990 levels, and by 2080, rainfall intensity will increase by 40%. The increased likelihood of more frequent extreme rainfall events will aggravate the risk of flooding. As a heavily populated, urban area, build on a flood plain, Lambeth is likely to be affected by an increased risk of flooding.

Heavy rain and floods will not only impact our natural environment (e.g. parks, rivers), but they will also affect the health and wellbeing of our residents, as well as our infrastructure. Older buildings in the borough may be particularly affected by flooding.

View more information about Flooding and what we're doing to mitigate it in Lambeth.

Intensification of the urban heat island effect

As a metropolitan area, Lambeth is subject to the urban island effect. An urban heat island is a metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas, due to human activities and to lack of vegetation (more energy and heat are stored by buildings and the ground in urban areas, than in rural areas).

Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, intensify the urban heat island effect. By 2050, what we in this country think of as being a heat wave of the kind experienced in the summer of 2003 may well be the norm. The Government’s latest UK Climate Change Projections suggest that by the 2050s, London could see an increase in mean summer temperature of 2.7 degrees.

According to a recent study, by 2050 London could experience weather as hot as temperatures today in Barcelona in Spain or Melbourne in Australia. Extreme temperatures, and the urban heat island effect, will impact on the health of our citizens as well as on Lambeth’s environment. During the summer heatwaves of 2019, according to Public Health England, there were almost 900 additional deaths.

Increased air pollution

Air pollution and climate change are closely linked. The main sources of GHG – vehicle exhaust, energy production, factories – are also a major source of air pollution. Furthermore, air pollutants, particularly Ozone, worsen climate change by affecting the amount of sunlight that is reflected or absorbed by the atmosphere (thus increasing or decreasing the temperature of the Earth).

In Lambeth, air pollution is mainly caused by transport, commercial and domestic heating and construction sites. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM) are among the most dangerous air pollutants. Air pollution in Lambeth affects the health and wellbeing of our citizens, as well as the environment. All information around air quality in Lambeth can be found here: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/better-fairer-lambeth/air-quality If we don’t decrease air pollution, we’ll worsen the effect of climate change.

To find more detailed information, see the Met Office's UK Climate change projections 2018 factsheets.

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Lambeth Citizens Assembly