New guidance released to help councils tackle climate emergency

An educational charity, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), has published new guidance to help UK councils take action against the climate crisis.

The report, published in partnership with Keele University, is based on workshops with 10 Staffordshire councils examining challenges in reaching net-zero.

This is a key issue, as more than 330 councils out of 409 have declared a climate emergency, with 270 of those also forming a plan to reach net zero.

The councils collaborated at CAT’s Zero Carbon Innovation Lab and formed a joint approach to achieving low-carbon targets based on councillor’s experiences.

Recommendations were made across a range of topics, including governance, collaboration and impact, stakeholder engagement, resourcing and shared learning and knowledge exchange.

high-angle photography of group of people sitting at chairs

Dr Anna Bullen, Innovation Lab Manager at the Centre for Alternative Technology, said: ‘Across the UK, councils have already acknowledged the urgency of tackling climate change and are committed to taking action — but limited resource and in-house expertise continues to be a challenge and barrier to reaching zero carbon. We hope that sharing practical learnings and recommendations as widely as possible will support councils in meeting these targets.

‘The process helped the participants to better understand the barriers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, create a vision for their county, and set out objectives towards achieving their individual and collective aims across a number of themes — from resourcing to stakeholder engagement and shared learning.

‘As a result of the Lab, Staffordshire councils now plan to collaborate at a county scale to save money, work more efficiently and have a better chance of making progress at the speed and scale needed — aspirations which are undoubtedly shared by councils UK-wide.’

Councils have been advised to form small groups to co-ordinate cross-council climate action, align net-zero targets with other councils and develop cross-council online communities to share information and ask questions.

According to the report, regional climate hubs should be set up to act as a steering group on matters addressing the climate issues and training should be provided across all service areas to improve carbon literacy.

The group also decided that climate and biodiversity emergencies should be considered in all decisions and discussed at regular meetings.

Additionally, it could benefit councils to collaboratively map stakeholders and design an engagement strategy, as well as hold resourcing workshops with senior management.

In related news, councillors aren’t confident their authorities will meet self-imposed net zero targets, a study by energy company E.ON and the Local Government Chronicle has found.

Photo by Mikael Kristenson


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