Monday 30th November, 2009

Westminster: Carbon neutral?

Image courtesy meyyoblue, flickr

Westminster Council’s Go Green programme was initiated in 2006 and focuses on helping residents and businesses to become more sustainable. The council plans to achieve their goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2010 by focusing on the following issues:

Climate Change

In 2007, Westminster Council implemented a Carbon Management Strategy which has decreased the carbon footprint of local corporate operations by 14 per cent. The strategy also includes work programmes to reduce emissions from schools and engaging with supply chains of the council.

Air Quality

Westminster Council has been working toward improving air quality since the early 1990s with pollution monitoring networks and the use of environmentally friendly vehicles in council work. They have also agreed to award benefits to drivers of alternatively fuelled cars under their Ecomark scheme. Benefits include: no congestion charge, free parking (for electric cars) and reduced vehicle excise duty. In addition, drivers who live or work in Westminster will also benefit from recharging points in the borough as well as free parking for residents.

Sustainable Development

Representing one of the most developed areas of London, Westminster has chosen to focus particularly on environmental city-planning. The council website lists many buildings which have been refurbished in a manner that makes them more sustainable.

This development is not limited to buildings, however, as the council is also taking steps to create sustainable schools with curriculums aimed at improving youth awareness of climate change. Programmes such as the Eco-Schools programme involve pupils monitoring sustainability as well as environmental decision-making. The council also offers extra funding and entry into competitions to encourage sustainability.

Westminster’s Carbon Alliance

The Westminster Carbon Alliance was launched in 2009 in an attempt to lower emissions in the area. 75 per cent of Westminster’s CO2 emissions come from commercial and other non-domestic buildings which is high in comparison with the UK’s 50 per cent average. The Carbon Alliance works with businesses, public agencies, creative industry (theatres, art galleries etc), to lower emissions by setting targets, strategising, and celebrating achievements.

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