Rebuilding a greener Hackney

Responding to the climate crisis is the challenge of our times. In 2019, we declared a climate emergency and committed to reach net zero emissions by 2040, which means that the Council will not be a net contributor to climate change by 2040.

In doing so, we pledged to rebuild a greener Hackney – helping to protect the planet for future generations, and build a borough with cleaner air, healthier lives and better neighbourhoods for all of our residents and businesses.

We’re already doing a lot – from introducing new trial low traffic neighbourhoods and School Streets, to placing solar panels on Council buildings and planting thousands of trees.

However, to reach net zero, we also need your help. Less than 5% of the borough’s emissions are produced by the Council, with most coming from households.

The Grantham Institute at Imperial College London recommends 9 things everyone can do about climate change.

Our roadmap to net zero

We’ve done lots since declaring a climate emergency: planting thousands of trees, switching the Council’s electricity supply to 100% renewable and introducing new School Streets and low traffic neighbourhoods to encourage people to leave their cars at home and walk and cycle instead.

Over the last year, we’ve:

  • planted 2,500 mature street trees and 12,000 trees in parks and open spaces, towards a commitment to plant 36,000 by 2022. We work closely with community groups, such as Hackney Tree Musketeers, to deliver this programme, which will increase canopy cover from 20 to 30%
  • switched Council electricity supply to 100% renewable
  • launched London’s first borough-wide thermal efficiency programme, installing insulation at 100 households and trialling home heat pumps, and a solar pilot programme, installing solar panels at two leisure facilities, with projected lifetime carbon savings of 2,259,505kWh. Both are delivered through Hackney Light and Power, our Council-owned energy services company
  • introduced 40 School Streets – helping over 14,000 children walk and cycle to school – and 15 new LTNs, where through-traffic is restricted to encourage walking and cycling. About 17% of Hackney’s residents live in new LTNs, with early results showing 40% reductions in traffic. We also refreshed our School Streets toolkit to help others across the country introduce them
  • introduced fortnightly residual waste collections, with initial evidence indicating a 3.5% rise in recycling rates
  • adopted a new local plan requiring development to contribute to biodiversity net gain, and major developments to install living roofs
  • expanded our glyphosate-free zone, and started expanding it to all 237 green spaces on our housing estates, as part of a commitment to reduce herbicide-use and increase biodiversity
  • converted 1,400 sqm of space on our roads and pavements to rain gardens, helping to reduce impact on the public sewer system and increase wildlife diversity
  • hosted a green recovery event and our first ever citizens’ assembly on the climate crisis – to help kick start a long-term conversation with residents and businesses on tackling the climate emergency

This year, we’re:

  • tendering for thousands of electric vehicle charging points to be introduced across Hackney by 2030
  • launching the second phase of the Green Homes programme, which has already retrofitted 100 privately owned homes
  • launching a new Library of Things in Dalston
  • planting 2,500 more street trees, as part of our commitment to plant over 35,000 in the borough by 2022

Listening to you

We need to work in partnership with everyone in the borough if we’re to rebuild a greener Hackney and eliminate our impact on climate change.

We’ve co-designed our first green recovery engagement event, which took place in October 2021. We asked voluntary and community organisations for their thoughts on:

  • how relevant people feel the green recovery is to residents and businesses in Hackney
  • how we can make sure the green recovery is fair – and does not disproportionately impact people from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • how community groups can help to lead this engagement process

In March 2022, we hosted our first ever citizens’ assembly on the climate crisis, where we heard local residents’ views on tackling emissions from homes, and from the things we buy.

We will report back on the citizens’ assembly in our update to Full Council this summer.

Later this year we will also be consulting residents on our climate action plans – which outline how we will work together with local residents to tackle the climate crisis. These cover seven themes:

  • retrofitting homes
  • low carbon development
  • renewable energy
  • low carbon transport
  • consumption-based emissions
  • the green economy and a just transition
  • resilient and green

What are the biggest contributors to emissions in Hackney?

The biggest emissions contributors to climate change in Hackney are:

  • domestic gas and electricity
  • business gas and electricity
  • road transport
  • industrial F-gases
  • aviation
  • embodied carbon in new buildings
  • water
  • waste
  • food
  • clothing and footwear
  • electronics

The Council has control over some of these, such as through schemes like School Streets, which encourage children to walk and cycle to school, and by encouraging people to recycle more.

We are currently carrying out a study of borough-wide emissions, which will help us to prioritise our policies and reach net zero.

Change One Thing

We know that the climate crisis – and knowing how you can play your part in tackling it – can be daunting for many.

That’s why we’ve launched Change One Thing – a campaign of simple pledges to help inspire each other to take action and rebuild a greener Hackney.

You can share something you’re already doing – or something new, taken from our list of pledges.

Share your pledge on our virtual board to encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same.

You can also tag us @hackneycouncil on social media and use #ChangeOneThing to share your pledge.

What could you pledge?

  • reduce energy use by turning your thermostat down
  • sign up for our Green Homes programme to help insulate your home
  • switch your energy supply to 100% renewable
  • order a food waste caddy and start to recycle food waste
  • eat less meat and dairy
  • buy food produced in the UK where you can
  • cut back on flying
  • leave the car at home and walk, cycle or take public transport instead
  • respect and protect green spaces
  • avoid single-use items and fast fashion
  • tell others about the changes you make
  • repair your shoes, clothes and electrical items if broken
  • buy second hand online or in charity shops

The Grantham Institute at Imperial College London suggests more ways you can reduce your impact on climate change.

Why do we need to take action?

The world’s temperature has already risen by about 1o°C since pre-industrial times, caused by manmade carbon emissions.

Already, this is causing increased drought, flooding, heatwaves and fires. It also has the potential to cause mass population movements as some areas of the world become uninhabitable.

In the UK, if climate change continues, we are likely to see warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers and more intense weather extremes like flash flooding that we have seen in Hackney in recent years.

The Met Office has more information about the effects of climate change on the UK and the world.

What are the benefits of taking action?

Across the world and in Hackney, limiting changes in temperature will help to prevent the extreme events caused by climate change.

Many of things that will help to rebuild a greener Hackney – such as warmer homes, higher levels of walking and cycling, fewer car journeys, more trees and greenery – have direct benefits for Hackney residents:

  • making the borough’s homes warmer and more emergency efficient will provide hundreds of local jobs, and reduce our reliance on gas to heat our homes
  • neighbourhoods with less traffic will be quieter and have cleaner air
  • we can live healthier lives by walking and cycling more
  • we can ensure there is greater biodiversity and there are more green areas in the borough
Page updated on: 7 October 2022