The UK’s Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local governments in both England and Wales, has declared a ‘climate emergency’ following the lead of more than half of the two nations’ local councils, many of whom have set 2030 as the target for the UK’s transition to net-zero emissions.
“We know what needs to be done, so now we just must get on with it,” declared Doina Cornell, leader of Stroud Council and co-chair of the newly-launched climate emergency network.
The move was decided at a recent meeting in July, and the new resolution includes reviewing models for energy use, more active stakeholder engagement, the establishment of focal points for activity, and the formulation and sharing of best practices.
This, says the LGA, will form the preamble, and set the scene for an action-focussed mindset necessary to achieve the 2030 goal.
International environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has produced a programme for local authorities to meet the target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, as set in the 2008 Climate Change Act.
According to the FoE, in the short-term, a lot can be done to reduce carbon emissions, with about half of local council areas reporting transport as being the biggest source of emissions, meaning public or emissions-free personal transport can make a significant difference.
In more urban areas like London, homes are the largest contributors, and the choice in energy provider, home energy-monitoring and time-of-use applications can make a significant impact.
In strategic terms, local councils can start by formulating climate change-compliant strategies, developing carbon reduction pathways, making a political commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and raising funds for climate action.
FoE’s 33 specific action points include introducing workplace parking charges or regulating that taxi companies use electric vehicles, and investment in public transport electrification.
In terms of infrastructure and buildings, councils can raise energy efficiency standards, as well as improve recycling, district heating and encouraging the planting of trees locally.