Becoming one of London’s most sustainable boroughs

Author: Yogita Popat, Barnet's assistant director for sustainability


Barnet’s latest Climate Scorecard rating shows what can be achieved in 18 months, writes Yogita Popat, Assistant Director for Sustainability for Barnet Council

The Barnet Citizens assembly on Climate Change

The Barnet Citizens assembly on Climate Change

Our journey to becoming one of London’s most sustainable boroughs has been a remarkable feat for all involved. Only 18 months ago we were ranked 0 in the Climate Emergency UK’s Scorecard, and now we are among the country’s top 18% of local authorities for our progress towards becoming a net zero council by 2030 and borough by 2042. With a score of 46%, Barnet outperformed 114 other councils in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

In May 2022, we declared a climate and biodiversity emergency – making us one of the last councils in London to do so. That our progress has been so rapid is a measure of our strategy of innovation, data and insight and putting residents at the heart of our delivery; recognising we cannot do this alone and that we need to work together. As a council, we have the in-house expertise to deliver the technical solutions, but it is also through collaborating with our c.400,000 residents, communities and businesses that it has been possible to make accelerated progress.

Some of our key achievements include installing heat pumps and solar panels in 17 buildings across the borough, comprising the council’s main office in Colindale and five libraries.

Our £8bn Brent Cross Town development, one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects, features an on-site energy centre and the Continent’s largest airsource heat pump installation, as well as being one of the first net zero towns.

We have embarked on an ambitious journey to transition our entire pension portfolio to achieve net zero, helping to improve environmental sustainability while securing the necessary funds for pension payments.

In 2023, we launched and concluded a citizens’ and young people’s assembly, hearing from 60 people across the borough, aged 12-80 years old. These assemblies provide a platform for residents to be involved in guiding our efforts toward net zero. Their recommendations play a crucial role in shaping our agenda and plans for the years ahead. Since the assemblies we have launched community action groups, led and chaired by residents and communities; working together to deliver these recommendations.

We are taking bold measures to reduce carbon emissions, enhance energy efficiency, and promote renewable energy sources, investing in green infrastructure and supporting sustainable transportation projects. Our aim is not only to mitigate our environmental impact, but also to cultivate a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live for all of us.

An essential component of our action plan lies in our collaborative approach. Recognising that addressing climate change is a shared responsibility, we actively engaged with the community, businesses, and local organisations. Through town hall meetings, educational initiatives, and partnerships with environmental groups, we have begun to create a sense of collective ownership.

We know sustainability need not come at the cost of progress. By nurturing a green economy, supporting eco-friendly businesses and incentivising sustainable practices, we are not only safeguarding our environment but also contributing to the prosperity of our community.

While the 46% score is a great achievement, it serves as a reminder the path to net zero is an ongoing endeavour.

Together, we should celebrate this recognition of the great strides we have made in such a short time. And it should serve as inspiration for the next steps we take as we pave our way toward a sustainable future. We are on our journey to becoming one of London’s most sustainable boroughs – will you join us? #BarNETZero