In an unprecedented move, Surrey Police and Police Crime Commissioner (PCC) have declared a climate emergency and set ambitious targets to decarbonise policing in the county.

The declaration follows demands from environmental activists for influential organizations in the public and private sectors to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis.

The police's decision comes in the wake of the UK Parliament and scores of borough and district councils across the country publicly recognizing the climate crisis as an "emergency" situation.

Surrey Comet: Surrey Police are moving towards using more electric cars. Image: Surrey PCCSurrey Police are moving towards using more electric cars. Image: Surrey PCC

On declaring the emergency, the PCC Office said Surrey Police was "committed to regarding climate change as having significant implications for Surrey’s communities" and "wants to play its part by reducing its carbon footprint in the county."

The declaration was accompanied with an ambitious carbon neutrality target of 2030 — significantly more ambitious than the current government's plans to get to carbon neutral by 2050.

While many organizations have acknowledged the seriousness of the climate crisis, some have faced scrutiny over failing to follow their declarations with concrete actions to decarbonise at the rapid rate necessary to avoid catastrophe.

Surrey Comet: Surrey PCC David MunroSurrey PCC David Munro

Describing the declaration as "the obvious thing to do" in conversation with the Comet, Surrey PCC David Munro insisted that he was committed to making sure that didn't happen this time around.

"I'm not in the gimmick game. I'm in the transforming game.

"I didn't want this just to get a headline. I want this to be the continuation of work that will really affect not only the lives of the police but through them the lives of the whole county," he told the Comet.

Indeed, Surrey Police and the PCC announced a number of measures aimed at speeding up the urgent process of reducing their carbon footprint as fast and as steeply as possible.

Chief among them is the new fleet of electric and hybrid police cars now being used by the county police force.

"We're on our way to replacing a substantial amount of our car fleet and we already have a number of electric cars in use.

"As our utility fleet reaches the end of its life electric cars is the first port of call," he said.

Surrey Comet: Surrey PCC headquarters at Mount BrowneSurrey PCC headquarters at Mount Browne

Along with smaller steps like removing single use plastic cups from their offices, Mr Munro also revealed he had instituted an "efficiency review" for Surrey Police and PCC in order to reduce energy usage wherever possible.

"We're starting with the simple things like turning printers off at night, making sure the lights are off and turning heating down. We can get slack and we need regular reminders.

"In the longer term, we have set up a board to look at this in a more systematic way to harness technology. We already to a lot of Skype calls to keep our mileage down and I can see that continuing and becoming a way of life," he said.

"It's not going to be revolutionary, it won't happen overnight. But measure after measure as the years pass I think we will make a real difference."

Meanwhile, Mr Munro discussed plans for Surrey Police and the PCC to build a new headquarters with a drastically reduced carbon footprint: "It will be very green indeed and we'll be using all the 21st century methods to make it energy efficient," he said.

Surrey Comet: Surrey Police. Image: © Copyright Peter Trimming via geograph ccSurrey Police. Image: © Copyright Peter Trimming via geograph cc

So will the police's declaration have a knock-on impact for residents in Surrey?

"Not directly but the very fact that we've signed up to this means we add our weight and reputation to persuading residents about this.

"We have high approval ratings from the public... I think us doing this will add an extra nudge to everybody's efforts," he said.