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Climate change blog – what next for local climate action?

The Climate Change Board, ADEPT’s latest addition to its subject boards is celebrating its first birthday. ADEPT Policy Officer David Dale gives an update.

Set up in April 2023, ADEPT’s Climate Change Board is chaired by Nigel Riglar, who is also our representative on the Local Net Zero Forum (LNZF) with government and other local authority bodies. 

Nigel is supported by Andy Gutherson – Andy also sits on the LNZF in his role as Chair of the Local Adaptation Advisory Panel (LAAP) which brings together local authority officers and Defra officials.

Climate Change Board – an overview

Membership of the Board is designed to get wide representation from ADEPT’s other subject and regional boards and to include colleagues who are involved in partner organisations such as the Blueprint Coalition and the LGA’s Sustainability Action Network. 

The Board is the voice of ADEPT when speaking on strategic climate change issues. It aims to identify key issues and to influence policy and delivery via key national forums including the LNZF and LAAP. We collaborate with a range of partners to do this. 

The focus of the Board’s first year has been shaped by the workplans of the LNZF and the LAAP, and by the various national strategies and reviews published during over the past year. This includes the Energy Security Strategy and updated Net Zero Strategy, Chris Skidmore’s review of the Net Zero Strategy, the third National Adaptation Programme, and the net zero target changes announced by the PM last September. 

A wide range of guest speakers have attended the Board’s meetings to present on different themes, including:

  • Chris Brierly and Tim German (Energy Systems Catapult), Local Area Energy Planning
  • Josh Dunn (EY), Net Zero maturity self-assessment tool
  • Isabel Oliver (UK Health Security Agency), Health effects of climate change
  • Sophie Kempthorne (UKRI/Innovate UK), Place-based finance for net zero
  • Nick Porter (LGA), survey of local authorities’ climate actions
  • Penny Clark (UCL), Net Zero What Works Centre.

The Board is now reflecting on progress to date, reviewing where ADEPT’s policy positions on climate change need updating, and considering where best to focus its attention for the coming year. It will be a challenging time as financial pressure and political uncertainty make it increasingly difficult to local authorities to meet their ambitious local climate targets. 

Collaboration and partnership working: the Blueprint Coalition 

In terms of partnership working, we continue to work actively as part of the Blueprint Coalition. Peter Moore (Head of Climate Strategy at Reading BC, and a member of our CC Board) has recently become co-Chair of the Coalition and published this article for the journal Chamber UK. 

The Coalition is currently focused on manifesto influencing, writing to and seeking meetings with senior politicians and advisers in the main political parties to try to influence policy and secure their support for our manifesto asks in advance of the general election. We recently had useful meetings with Kerry McCarthy MP (Shadow Climate Minister), and Cllr Vikki Slade of the LGA Liberal Democrat group.

The Blueprint Coalition is also hosting as series of webinars, starting with How can devolution deliver on environmental ambition? on 5th June, 10.00-11.00 on Zoom. 

Devolution in England is gathering pace, with several new deals recently announced. Although there is an increasingly complex picture of deals across England, it’s clear that this level of governance is increasingly important in tackling the climate and nature crises. 

As we look ahead to the next general election, this event will be an opportunity to discuss the progress that metro mayors have made on climate and nature and the opportunities that new deals will bring. It will also highlight the national resourcing and regulatory and policy change that could help accelerate local climate action at this level. It also raises the question of how to ensure that local authorities outside of areas with devolution deals are not left behind. 

Speakers include Peter Moore, Cllr Tom Ross (Greater Manchester Combined Authority Green City Lead), Cllr Marisa Heath (Cabinet Member for Environment, Surrey County Council), Dr Matthew Lane (University of Edinburgh) and Victoria Marsom (Head of England team, Friends of the Earth).

The next webinar is being pencilled in for September and will focus on retrofit.

Collaboration and partnership working: LGA Initiative

The other main area of partnership working at present is via the LGA’s What next for local climate action? Initiative. This brings together a wide range of umbrella groups from within the local government sector – LGA, ADEPT, Local Partnerships, Solace, UK100, London Councils, Core Cities, County Councils Network, District Councils Network, APSE, 3Ci, and Planning Advisory Service. 

The group has come together following the publication of the results of the LGA’s latest survey of local climate plans and which has a lot of valuable information about some of the barriers that local authorities are facing in delivering those plans. One headline finding was that 67% of councils were very or fairly unconfident their local authority will achieve its net zero targets within the timescales set out in its strategy.

The What’s next? group is looking for opportunities to collaborate to amplify the message about the importance of local climate action, to help make the case for a renewed local/central relationship under the next government, and to work together to tackle some of those barriers. 

As part of this work we will be exploring the question of whether there should be a statutory duty on local authorities in respect of climate mitigation and adaptation (as recommended by the Skidmore review last year), and if so how general or specific this should be, and whether it should apply to other public bodies too.

Looking ahead

ADEPT’s position on this as set out two years ago in the policy document Climate Change & Green Growth is: “We would support new duties on councils to provide leadership in climate mitigation and adaptation locally, and to report on their progress in tackling climate change across all of their services and responsibilities, providing that councils are given the powers and funding that they need to do this.” 

As we look to refresh this policy position no doubt we will be having a lively conversation with ADEPT members – watch this space!

We are always keen to welcome new members to the Board, so please get in touch if you feel that you can contribute.

Further information


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