Laura Sharman 04 December 2020

Whitehall failing to harness councils’ enthusiasm on climate action

The Government will fail to meet its 2050 net zero carbon target without working in partnership with local authorities, a new report has warned.

Green Alliance said that despite three-quarters of English local authorities declaring climate emergencies, they lack the skills, funding and wider support from central Government to go green.

The report highlights the fact councils have jurisdiction over elements of housing and transport, two highly emitting sectors. It also points to the fact local councils are more trusted than central government so are best to coordinate action and encourage lifestyle changes.

Philippa Borrowman, policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: ‘The Government is missing a trick when it comes to working with local authorities on climate-related issues.

’Councils are close to the people, businesses and environments which they serve and our interviews have revealed just how passionate they are to address the climate emergency and do the best for their communities. They will be pivotal in supporting the roll-out of low carbon housing and transport policies and ensuring they work for everyone, in every community.’

The report calls for a joint approach between central government and local authorities, and for this to be linked to the forthcoming devolution white paper. It also said councils should have more flexibility to use their powers within the planning system to accelerate decarbonisation.

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