Local authorities need to ramp up climate action

Friends of the Earth has said that all local authorities need to do more to tackle climate change, and help create cleaner and greener places to live.

The environmental charity has created a new league table of local authorities, having assessed councils in different categories including renewable energy, public transport, lift-sharing, energy efficiency at home, waste recycling and tree cover. Wiltshire has topped the table of the most climate-friendly areas in England and Wales.

The new research enables people to look up how climate-friendly their local authority is, how their area compares to similar places, and what climate action is most needed.

Local authorities have an important and often over-looked role in cutting carbon emissions and solving the climate crisis, but most are doing far too little, and even the better performing ones can do much more. From eco-heating to e-bikes, from transport to tree planting, more can and should be done, says Friends of the Earth.

Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth chief executive, said: “All local authorities, even the best performing, need to ramp up what they are doing. We know we are facing a climate and ecological emergency that threatens our existence and the natural world. If we want to change things for the better, let's start at home.

“Doing things right now about climate change isn’t just good news for future generations and people most vulnerable to an erratic climate, it’s good for everyone. Creating cleaner and greener places to live means healthier, happier lives. It’s why local authorities need to take the lead by adopting ambitious local climate action plans, and who better to help them than communities.”

David Renard, Environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are already doing significant work to protect the environment, to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and to address issues that affect the environment and the health of our communities. This includes tackling harmful air pollution by devising clean air zones and protecting at-risk areas outside schools, encouraging the use of electric vehicles through promoting recharging points, and investing in cycling.

“However, national climate change targets are unlikely to be met unless councils are given long-term funding, devolved powers and easier access to complex government funding pots. A joint national taskforce led by councils would harness the critical partnership between local and national government to coordinate and drive climate change action for the benefit of communities, the country and the planet.”