Climate-related incidents affecting majority of councils

Eight in ten councils surveyed by the Local Government Association have been affected by a climate-related incident in the last five years.

The LGA said councils have been working hard to develop policy and action to tackle climate change since the government laid plans in June 2019 to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Approximately 80 per cent have set an official target for the authority to become carbon neutral, with nine out of 10 councils having declared a climate emergency.

The Climate Change Survey 2020 asks what policy changes would enable councils to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change more effectively in the future. The most frequently identified barrier to tackling climate change was funding (96 per cent), followed by legislation or regulation (93 per cent) and lack of workforce capacity (88 per cent).

David Renard, LGA environment spokesperson, said: “Councils recognise the urgent need to tackle climate change and are making active changes to benefit the environment. This includes tackling harmful air pollution by devising clean air zones, encouraging the use of electric vehicles through promoting recharging points, and installing energy saving measures across council’s own building stock.

“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. Now is a crucial time for local authorities to be able to act and work hard to tackle climate change. Drawing up and implementing new policy, hiring and training specialist staff and communicating this messaging to residents all come at a cost at a time when council finances are already stretched.

“We want to work with the government and business to establish a national fiscal and policy framework for addressing the climate emergency, supported with long term funding.”