Councils throw support behind Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

More than 100 local authorities and councils have publicly backed the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill, which is set to be debated in Parliament next month and calls for the UK to do more to tackle its contribution to the climate crisis.

Councils throw support behind Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

Budgets are too stretched because of the cost of living crisis

The CEE Bill has been spearheaded in Parliament by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and would see the UK go beyond its 2050 net-zero target by accounting for its entire carbon footprint – domestically and overseas. At present, international shipping and aviation are excluded from calculations, for example. The Bill would also bind policymakers to prioritise existing climate solutions over emerging technologies, as recommended by Project Drawdown and Chatham House, and to give greater powers to the citizens’ assembly on climate change.

In just under a year, 104 councils have now pledged their support to the Bill and are encouraging Government officials to pass it into law. The Bill was tabled by a group of MPs in June and is scheduled for its Second Reading in the House of Commons in September.

Cllr Andrea Davis, a Conservative councillor and Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport on Devon County Council, said: “We are already gathering support and acting at a local level on the aims of the CEE Bill. To enshrine the aims in law would provide even greater focus on the climate and ecological emergencies and give a greater mandate for national policy and resources to be aligned, to have the necessary impact on these most pressing of issues.”

Grassroots activism

The campaign behind the CEE Bill is Zero Hour, previously known as the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill Alliance. Zero Hour is calling on all parts of society to join the campaign.

Last year, for example, Extinction Rebellion (XR) issued a two-week programme of in-person demonstrations across cities including London, Manchester and Cardiff, calling on MPs to back the CEE Bill.

A separate group called the Blueprint Coalition are also calling for Central Government to provide more funding and support for local action on the climate crisis. The Blueprint Coalition includes Ashden, Friends of the Earth, the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, ADEPT (the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport) and others.

The support from the councils builds on concerns that local authorities will not be able to reach net-zero emissions before the 2050 deadline.

More than a third of councils in the UK are not confident that they’ll be able to meet public commitments to reaching net-zero emissions, with a “black hole” of data hindering efforts on energy efficiency plans.

A poll of 1,061 UK councillors, carried out in November 2020, by the independent non-profit Icebreaker One found that 36% are not confident that their council will meet public commitments to net-zero emissions.

In total, 89% of respondents had a net-zero target ambition in place, but more than one-third felt they did not have sufficient data and information to set out detailed and informed roadmaps to net-zero. Respondents cited a lack of data on retrofitting homes to make them more energy-efficient as a key barrier to net-zero, despite the Government launching a £65bn investment framework into the sector.

Matt Mace

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