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Local authorities are key to tackling the climate crisis

The government must recognise the key role of local authorities in tackling the climate crisis, says coalition. 

The report, which has been published by local government, environmental and research organisations calls for urgent powers and resources for local authorities to tackle the climate crisis. 

Decarbonising sectors such as housing and transport will be much harder than decarbonising the power sector, and achieving this will require significant behavioural changes. 

The report highlights that local governments are best placed to change this due to their close relationship with local communities. 

Local authorities also have control over key sectors such as transport planning, waste management, economic regeneration, land use planning and regulation of energy efficiency standards. 

They also have influence over emissions through their procurement, which was worth at least £63bn in 2019/20 and accounts for 70-80% of an individual council’s carbon footprint. 

gray concrete building with graffiti

Based on this, the report calls on the government to adopt four key priorities: 

  • A clear commitment to a mutually agreed central framework to embed local authorities as delivery partners in decarbonisation policies. 
  • A clear message that a place-based solution is the best approach for several sectors to ensure that local infrastructure, behaviour and partnership activities are aligned to net zero. 
  • A cross-departmental approach to working with local authorities. 
  • Acknowledgement of the wider co-benefits of delivering on decarbonisation policies, and how local authorities can support these in a way that will also deliver better public health, reduce inequalities, restore nature and build thriving local economies.

Paula Hewitt, President of The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) said: ‘The government will not meet its targets without the work of local authorities, and we want to ensure the transition to a low carbon society is just.

‘As leaders in our areas, we bring together partnerships from across different sectors, as well as our communities, businesses, suppliers, strategic bodies and the voluntary sector. No one else has the reach, the levels of trust or ability to provide targeted support that will encourage and enable behavioural change. We have already started this work as our case studies show. What we need now is the recognition and resource to go further, faster.’

Photo by Gary Butterfield

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