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Support local councils or miss your own climate targets – ADEPT and partners' call to government

8 December 2020

ADEPT and partners, including Friends of the Earth, Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, and Ashden call for central government to provide more funding and support for local action on the climate crisis.

  • Councils are vital to delivering local solutions such as electric vehicle charging points and heat pumps in social housing
  • Climate Change Committee to publish report tomorrow (9th December) on key local government actions

The Blueprint Coalition (formed of local government organisations, environmental NGOs, and academics and backed by around 100 councils) 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. The coalition has launched a plan for how the government can best support local action on the climate crisis (link to full report below).

The coalition’s five priorities for action:

  1. Invest more in low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure including public transport networks and renewable energy;
  2. Prioritise and focus support for reskilling and retraining for green jobs so that local authorities can target training where it is needed most;
  3. Ensure that our homes are fit for the future, by investing more in retrofitting to high energy efficiency standards, with social housing a priority, and ensure that councils are able to require zero carbon housing in all new development;
  4. Make it easy for people to walk, cycle and work remotely by extending funds for active travel and enabling local authorities to permanently allocate dedicated space to walking and cycling; and
  5. Accelerate tree planting, peatland restoration, green spaces and other green infrastructure. This must include resourcing for local authorities to maintain existing parks, plant trees and address gaps in access to green spaces in their areas.  

This comes as experts on the Climate Change Committee (CCC) are expected to tell the government to ramp up action on climate when it releases a special report tomorrow (9th December) on the importance of local government, alongside its sixth carbon budget report.

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, they must be given new powers and funding by central government. 

ADEPT President, Nigel Riglar said:

“ADEPT has welcomed government recognition that our economic recovery from Covid-19 has to be green, but this requires investment in people and place, as well as technological innovation. The only way to achieve this is to empower and resource local authorities, working in partnerships with business, communities, partners and supply chains, to deliver local solutions across our places. Environment, economy, health and wellbeing, inclusivity and addressing the climate crisis are all inextricably linked, so action has to take place at the local level now if we are to meet the net zero target.”

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.”

Harriet Lamb, CEO, Ashden said:

"The government has set an ambitious new target for emissions reductions by 2030, but to achieve this we all need to make big changes to the way we heat our homes, how we travel and what we eat. Local authorities are close to their communities and will play an essential role in encouraging and enabling change on the ground. Government must now provide councils with the support and investment they need to deliver their climate ambitions and support communities to play their part."

Read the full Blueprint report here and a summary version here