Hello! I am Helen Dell, the Climate Change Commissioner for Hammersmith & Fulham.
Together with my fellow Climate Change Commissioner, Chris Dodwell, we are volunteer residents. Our main focus is to help deliver H&F’s Climate and Biodiversity Strategy and action plan (pdf 477KB).
With a bold ambition to achieve carbon zero by 2030, H&F is ahead of the UK's national target of 2050. It aligns the borough well with the IPCC report that stabilising the climate requires fast action.
What we do now in the next seven to 10 years to keep global warming within the 1.5-degree target will really count.
At H&F, we are striving to do all that it takes to meet the 2030 challenges of reaching net carbon zero. We hope that all residents and businesses will help us make that ambition a reality.
From rethinking the way we power our homes to how we move around the borough, H&F has been making waves in challenging the behavioural status quo. Not only in the form of its chart-topping climate strategy but, significantly, for the actions that have followed suit since, and the plans being put in place for strategic step changes.
It is a vast subject, with much happening, so here are some of the important things that have been happening recently.
Heating without costing the earth
Energy from buildings accounts for over 50 per cent of carbon emissions in the borough (315KB). Most of it is due to energy inefficient, leaky buildings and the primary heat source being from gas boilers, which also contribute to poor air quality.
So, retrofitting our homes and business premises is key to reducing the borough’s carbon footprint. It means to improve energy efficiency through a “fabric first” approach, and switching fuel sources away from gas.
Think improvements to the insulation of the fabric of our homes, solar panels for heat and hot water, as well as air source and ground source heat pumps. All of which will be cheaper to run and help with fuel bills as the cost-of-living crisis bites.
Some inspiring projects which are part of this transition include the replacement of old gas boilers with new heat pumps at Hammersmith’s adult learning centre as part of a large-scale retrofit programme to reduce the carbon footprint of schools.
The new Civic Campus in King Street will be fuelled largely by a ground source heat pump too.
In partnership with our neighbours over in Kensington and Chelsea, we’ve embarked on an energy masterplan to explore the potential for district heat networks, which would help provide much needed alternatives to gas.
Homes of the future
And leading by example, the council’s new development programme for social housing is impressive. On Fulham’s Aintree Estate,134 new homes are being built to Passivhaus’ standard. This is above and beyond current Building Regulation requirements.
And for business owners in our borough, H&F has recently announced new support in the form of grant funding of between £1,000 to £5,000 for retrofit improvements to your business premises.
Cleaning our air
Pollution in H&F consistently exceeds the World Health Organization’s annual standards for deadly nitrogen oxide gases (NOx).
Toxic air causes heart disease and cancers, dementia in older people and asthma in young people. According to a study by Imperial College London, it contributes to an average 87 early deaths a year in the borough.
Road vehicles account for 49 per cent of NOx pollution in H&F. We know that by reducing car numbers, we reduce NOx gases, dangerous particulates PM2.5 and PM10, and climate-damaging carbon emissions.
H&F has been trialling Clean Air Neighbourhoods to improve the health of residents through tree planting and greening, improved cycleways, traffic reduction measures, sustainable drainage systems to reduce flood risk, improved biodiversity and repurposing street space to be used at times for community events like play streets and street parties.
In South Fulham, the first pilot took place to the east of Wandsworth Bridge Road. It resulted in 8,000 fewer cars a day using residential streets as cut-throughs, 0.7 tonnes less of NOx polluting the area and one tonne less of carbon emissions every day.
The current trial to the west is expected to produce similar results.
Urban designers are now working with residents on plans to make the whole area greener and more attractive. Discussions are also taking place with residents and businesses in other parts of the borough about developing trials elsewhere.
Things we use
We know that what “we use and do”, are major contributors to climate change, and the things we use day to day can have a huge impact on our consumption-based emissions tally.
Initiatives like the Library of Things, free repair cafés at Livat, and support for the Nourish Hub and the London-wide Eat Like a Londoner campaign are excellent examples of helping communities enjoy the benefits of a lower-carbon lifestyle.
Improvements to biodiversity and “Greening the Grey"
To help with flooding by reducing surface run off into the sewer system, H&F is actively “Greening the Grey” of the urban concrete jungle, and has transformed more than 41,000 square metres of hard surfacing into green spaces or sustainable drainage.
This will help mitigate the impact of heavier rains and hotter summers along with three-football-fields’ worth of green roofing agreed upon through planning since 2019.
It’s great to see residents engage with those green spaces through initiatives like 'No Mow May', tree giveaways, parks and tiny forests, the last of these having recently been nominated for a national award.
Supporting the community
As important as making significant progress on strategic key priorities on the road to net zero is the underlying idea that every action we take matters.
With the council having control of only 8 per cent of all emissions in the borough, community action is an essential part of reaching net zero. So, every little thing we use or do matters.
H&F’s Climate Action Microgrants have helped a plethora of community projects off the ground, ranging from planting initiatives on our streets and in our parks, to a sewing club in Shepherds Bush and a hot composter for White City.
Meanwhile the Climate Alliance is bringing businesses together for peer-learning. If you need help to start your carbon reduction journey, or feel you have experience to offer support to others, please contact the H&F Climate Alliance team or join fellow change makers at the next in-person meeting on Wednesday 24 May to become part of the net zero challenge.
As we build momentum on this journey, we invite you to stay involved and share your ideas. Together, we can shape a more sustainable and resilient Hammersmith & Fulham.
Contact the H&F climate emergency team at email@example.com for support and advice on all climate change and biodiversity matters.
Or sign up to H&F’s Climate Connects e-newsletter to stay information about the steps the council is taking to tackle the climate and ecological emergency locally.
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