Climate Change

Climate change


The Waltham Forest Climate Emergency Commission will inform the Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy and make recommendations for how, as a borough, we can work together to tackle a global issue in a local context.

The Commission comprises of experts from across the energy, waste and environmental sectors to bring their knowledge and expertise to help the Council in our next phase of tackling the climate emergency.

Mitigating climate change – reducing our greenhouse gas emissions

Introduction: greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide

Greenhouse gases in our atmosphere (including water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) affect the earth’s energy balance and climate. They act to make the earth’s surface warmer as they absorb and emit heat energy in all directions (including downwards). Scientists have determined that, when all human and natural factors are considered, the Earth’s climate balance has been altered towards warming, with the biggest contributor being increases in carbon dioxide (CO2, and commonly referred in shorthand as “carbon”) which was responsible for about 81 per cent of the UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2016.

Most of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the use of energy – for example driving cars, heating our homes  or manufacturing goods. Emissions can be reduced by making our homes more insulated and energy efficient, and by switching to low-carbon fuels. This, along with action to tackle emissions from other sources, will be necessary to reduce our impact on climate change and help meet UK carbon targets.

The Government publishes regional statistics on CO2 emissions every year. This shows the three key sources of greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Commercial (businesses) and Industrial
  2. Domestic (homes)
  3. Transport

The latest data on carbon emissions in Waltham Forest (published in June 2019 for 2017) is:

Domestic Transport Total CO2 emissions Population Per capita emissions
Waltham Forest 149.3 kilo tonnes CO2 317.9 kilo tonnes CO2 195.2 kilo tonnes CO2 662.1 kilo tonnes CO2 275,500

2.4 tonnes CO2 per person

This data does not include everything. For example, emissions from the production of goods which are imported perhaps from as far away as China are not included. So our shopping choices contribute to global emissions and climate change.  

Climate Change will affect the borough in two main ways: increasing flood risk due to increased rainfall as a result of warmer and wetter winders; and overheating from rising temperatures. It is essential that we manage these risks and make our borough more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Providing and improving our existing green open spaces are integral to this as green infrastructure helps to reduce surface water run-off and reduce the urban heat island effect, as well as provide many other environmental and health and wellbeing benefits.