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Local government ‘roadmap for net zero support’ published

A new report from the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and law firm Browne Jacobson suggests Westminster’s failure to tackle Britain’s financial challenges threatens environmental progress. 

Net Zero and Local Democracy: Building and Maintaining Public Support was published today, Tuesday 19th September, and identified authorities below the national level as crucial in the path towards a greener planet. 

While coordinated international action is also vital, local councils remain hugely influential over established networks on the ground, and contribute significantly to overall emissions. As such, it is essential to empower and facilitate effective climate-related decision making in town, city and county halls across the UK. 

Housing, transport, health and wellbeing are increasingly being put in the hands of regional politicians, all of which have a large environmental footprint. Understanding the specific and unique needs of an area is important in making these systems work properly for the electorate, making councillors and MPs at local level best placed to deliver improvements. 

These must now be aligned with national climate targets, positioning those working within devolved governments and local politics as hugely important at a countrywide level. As the progress of each nation contributes to international work to mitigate climate change, these localised policymakers also play a pivotal part in global efforts. 

However, public support for net zero is being severely tested, with multiple economic crises continuing to impact UK residents. Cost of living, fuel prices, and inflation have severely dampened Britain’s post-pandemic recovery outlook, in some cases to a far worse extent than other comparable, developed countries.

Public debate over the ongoing expansion of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and, recently, the significant increase in size of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, both reveal split opinion on where priorities should lie. The LGiU and Browne Jackson’s report looks to identify methods of maintaining and increasing support as many prepare for another difficult winter defined by high bills and limited disposable income as a result. 

‘With the country struggling under the weight of the cost of living crisis, it is tempting to focus efforts on that alone. However, if councils agree that the net zero targets are necessary, they must accept that they cannot deliver their contribution alone,’ said Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU Chief Executive.

‘It requires the support of residents, businesses and the public sector across each of our communities to contribute towards net zero goals,’ he continued. ‘Taking a democratic approach to net zero in local areas will improve decision-making and planning by incorporating a broader range of views and perspectives, adding legitimacy to the process and helping to build trust locally.’

You can read and download the full report here

More on net zero and local government:

Ethics and human rights could be banned from local authority decisions

NIMBYism is blocking progress in the UK energy sector

Maui ‘climate-debunking’ disinformation should alarm local authorities

How Essex County Council fuelled economic growth with energy retrofits

Full scope: A guide to cutting your supply chain emissions

Image: Sylwia Bartyzel

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