William Eichler 19 September 2023

Council net zero efforts at risk, LGIU warns

Council net zero efforts at risk, LGIU warns   image
Image: Shark9208888 / Shutterstock.com.

Disputes over the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and Low Traffic Networks (LTNs), combined with the cost-of-living crisis, risk undermining local efforts at tackling climate change, a new study has warned.

In a new report into local government and net zero, the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) and law firm Browne Jacobson argue that local government is an ‘essential agent’ for achieving net zero.

Councils have influence over important policy areas like housing, transport, health, and wellbeing, which can make ‘significant contributions’ to the reduction of carbon emissions, according to the report.

However, public support for local schemes aimed at reducing air pollution has been ‘severely tested’ due to disagreements over the expansion of London’s ULEZ and the roll-out of LTNs.

These controversies, combined with the cost-of-living crisis, risk ‘weakening councils’ resolve to deliver net zero democratically’, the report warns.

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive, LGIU said: ‘With the country struggling under the weight of the cost-of-living crisis, it is tempting to focus efforts on that alone. However, if councils agree that the net zero targets are necessary, they must accept that they cannot deliver their contribution alone. It requires the support of residents, businesses, and the public sector across each of our communities to contribute towards net zero goals.

‘Taking a democratic approach to net zero in local areas will improve decision-making and planning by incorporating a broader range of views and perspectives, adding legitimacy to the process, and helping to build trust locally.

‘This is essential for changing behaviours and implementing local strategies. By working with the community and fostering support councils can also maximise the co-benefits of net zero, ensuring that the transition is just and fair.’

If this article was of interest, then check out our features, 'Now I am become Uxbridge, destroyer of rational climate discourse' and 'Home County drivers face taxation without representation'.

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