The newly-formed Local Authority Best Practice Programme on Climate Change has been given a budget of £4 million which will be administered by experts from councils, Whitehall and specialists bodies such as the Carbon Trust.

The programme will aim to spread existing good practice and provide training for council officers to help them reduce emissions in their area.

Environment Minister Phil Woolas said that councils needed to look beyond putting their own house in order and work with the wider communities to make real inroads into reducing carbon emissions.

From April, councils’ success in cutting carbon dioxide emissions will be measured as part of a new performance framework. They will also be assessed on their efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change, and to tackle fuel poverty.

Many councils are expected to set specific targets to lead the drive to cut back on carbon emissions in their areas.

“Local authorities have a vital role to play in tackling climate change through local leadership and service delivery,” said Mr Woolas.

“They need to look beyond their own estates and operations – important though these are – for opportunities to cut carbon, and work with people and businesses in their area to inspire change across the whole community.

“This new programme will provide additional support and guidance for authorities to learn from the best practice that is already out there, and to identify and implement effective measures that suit their local circumstances.”

Sam Bond

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