Climate change - What are we doing?
How Havering Council aims to become carbon neutral
In August 2021, we announced our intentions to be carbon neutral by 2040 or sooner if possible and to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis.
To demonstrate our commitment and to emphasise both the seriousness and urgency of our work, we then went a step further and declared a climate and ecological emergency for Havering on 22 March 2023.
This recognises the threat of climate change and the irreversible damage to our planet caused by global warming.
What does carbon neutral mean?
To be ‘carbon neutral’ means emitting no more greenhouse gases than those that can be absorbed through carbon capturing.
It means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration.
In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration.
Carbon sink is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits.
The main natural carbon sinks are soil, forests and oceans. According to estimates, natural sinks remove between 9.5 and 11 gigatonne of CO2 per year.
Annual global CO2 emissions reached 37.8 gigatonne in 2021
To date, no artificial carbon sinks are able to remove carbon from the atmosphere on the necessary scale to fight global warming.
The carbon stored in natural sinks such as forests is released into the atmosphere through forest fires, changes in land use or logging.
This is why it is essential to reduce carbon emissions in order to reach climate neutrality.