Support local councils or miss your own climate targets

The Blueprint Coalition is warning that the UK will fail to meet its 2050 target for net zero climate emissions without the full participation of, and support for, local authorities.

Formed of local government organisations, environmental NGOs, and academics and backed by around 100 councils, the coalition has launched a plan for how the government can best support local action on the climate crisis.

Its five priorities for action are: investing more in low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure; focusing support for reskilling and retraining for green jobs so that local authorities can target training where it is needed most; ensuring that our homes are fit for the future, by investing more in retrofitting to high energy efficiency standards; making  it easy for people to walk, cycle and work remotely; and accelerating tree planting, peatland restoration, green spaces and other green infrastructure.

Councils have a key role in fighting the climate crisis due to their responsibilities in areas like transport, housing, and managing green spaces. But they are also underfunded and under-resourced. To unlock action at the scale and pace needed to address the climate and ecological emergencies, the Blueprint Coalition says that they must be given new powers and funding by central government.

Sandra Bell, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The role that councils played with their rapid response plans was evident during the Covid-19 pandemic, and they must now be empowered to do the same for the climate crisis. The national, legally binding, target for net zero by 2050 will be missed unless Westminster gets behind local solutions to the climate crisis by giving more funding and support to councils. Local action must form a key part of fixing the climate crisis, and also in delivering a green and fair recovery from Covid that benefits all communities.”