System needs fixing to help local climate action

A new report has found that the public backs local authorities to tackle climate change but the system needs fixing first as more central government help is required.

The Power Shift report, published by UK100, finds that local authorities have been leading the green revolution and bringing the UK closer to Net Zero emissions, set by government for 2050.

However, while the public supports local councils tackling climate change, it argues that they need more help from the central government, both in powers and resources, as well as clarity over their role and an investment in skills and jobs to take the next step.

The report urges the government to: retain the urgency from the pandemic to build a green recovery; change national rules and regulations to enable local councils to do more on climate; create a framework for delivery of climate targets with local flexibility; invest in green jobs and schemes at scale, and in delivery at the local level; provide a consistent message from across government prioritising Net Zero; and give more appropriate powers for councils on housing, planning, and transport and more capacity to implement them.

Additionally, new polling, commissioned by UK100, reveals that the public most trust local authorities on green issues with 40 per cent agreeing they were best placed to take action. The polling also found 63 per cent of people want to see more local green jobs and skills in their areas.

Polly Billington, UK100 director, said: “Our members in UK100 know their communities - and the whole country - cannot get to Net Zero without them. Many of the decisions required to get there will be made by local councils, so what they do matters. By codifying this understanding in high definition, our Power Shift report, the most comprehensive examination of the powers available to local authorities ever undertaken, makes it undeniable that the push to Net Zero is simply not possible without local authorities placed at the heart of it. And the fact that two in five people believe their local authority is best placed to help initiate the change we urgently need shows just how much public support there is for a locally-led transition.

“We urge the government to recognise that we need to change the existing rules that slow down climate action at the local level. They need to be reformed with the necessary urgency, giving local authorities the powers and resources to put the country on the path to meeting its climate targets by 2050. Our members stand ready and waiting to engage.”

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