Climate statement

Why the council has not declared a climate emergency

In response to questions from residents, at a council meeting in December 2020, Cllr Marisa Heath, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, set out how the authority was responding to the need to support the climate and environment. She also explained the Council’s position on climate emergencies.

These are extracts from the speech

Runnymede has been asked why it has not called a Climate Change Emergency a number of times. We have discussed the merits of doing so in many forums. We could have declared the Emergency in 2019, equally we could have done it in 2018, 2017, 2016, with the point being that the situation we are facing in regard to our environment is not actually new.


Runnymede has been working on reducing our carbon footprint and being more sustainable for a number of years, albeit without the profile and enthusiasm that we now have.


Our view is that the work we do on climate change is bigger than an emergency, it is long-term, it is strategic, and it must be results driven, not rhetoric and not soundbites. 


What we should actually be doing is demonstrating to our residents real action and a plan to deliver more. There are numerous examples of councils who have declared an emergency and yet have not delivered much.   


The priority at Runnymede is to get on with making things happen in many different small and large ways.


At Runnymede we know and accept that there’s a pressing need for individuals, businesses and organisations to take urgent action to limit the existing negative effects of climate change.  We accept this is a resident priority. Actions to reduce our effect on the climate and environment are integral to Council’s work.


Climate change sits within the remit of the Chief Executive’s office in this Council, we have given it the highest status possible. It is fair to say climate change awareness is embedded in this Council’s actions and we’re actively working to normalise this in delivery of our services.


We are not the only organisation in the Borough that can influence this locally. Businesses, especially the larger ones, landowners, the County Council, NHS, government, schools, colleges, and homeowners, plus regional actors like Heathrow, all have a role to play. 


Runnymede is building working relationships with these other organisations and actively pursuing discussions where feasible on climate change issues with them. We are strongly of the view that we must work with partners and that includes our residents as every one of us have a responsibility to tackle climate change.