£3.5m network launched to tackle climate change in Edinburgh, Belfast and Leeds

A network of city climate commissions will be set up in Edinburgh, Belfast and Leeds, the Minister for Energy Claire Perry announced today (January 31).

The Place-based Climate Action Network (P-CAN) will help the local delivery of the UK’s climate change goals by supporting action in UK cities through a partnership made up of the private, public and third sectors.

P-CAN was announced today at the ‘Investing in Local Energy’ conference in Leeds. Speaking at the event, Claire Perry said: ‘This is a new £3.5m research network that has been set up to enable cities and towns to build much needed local action on climate change, by building their capacities for action, developing investable projects and accessing finance.

‘The network will include researchers from universities across the UK, and will explore innovative approaches to sustainable finance, renewable energy and low-carbon projects, and also highlight the business opportunities and social and economic benefits of local energy projects to communities.’

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is investing £3.5m in P-CAN over the course of five years. It will be hosted by the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh and Queen’s University Belfast and it will seek to increase engagement between university researchers and those tackling climate change in different sectors.

P-CAN will also help to ‘accelerate and sustain’ the transition to a low-carbon society through the creation of local climate commissions, following the Leeds model developed in 2017, as well as other broader measures focused on increasing investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient development.

Professor Andy Gouldson of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) said: ‘There is a massive opportunity for climate action in the UK’s cities and towns. But we need to build capacities to take these opportunities by bringing different actors together and by linking innovative projects and programmes to new sources of finance.

‘All of the evidence shows that doing this will help cities and towns to contribute more to the climate challenge, but that it can also help to deliver a wide range of other social and economic benefits.’

The event in Leeds has been organised by UK100, a 92-strong network of local government leaders committed to 100% clean energy by 2050, to bridge the gulf between authorities and private green finance that they say is ‘stifling’ many green initiatives.

UK100’s own questionnaire of attendees at the event found among local authority representatives, there was a £2bn pipeline of low-carbon projects planned but 85% were only at the conceptual or feasibility stages.

Attendees cited issues they faced including slow decision making and a complicated applications process for funding and investment.

UK100 Director Polly Billington said: ‘It is important in light of Brexit to replace European funding received for such projects, for example from the ERDF and Horizon 2020.’

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

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