Huge council carbon cutting role

Local authorities could play a significant role when it comes to cutting the UK's carbon emissions by inspiring their communities and putting their own houses in order.

According to a report issued by the Local Government Association’s Independent Climate Change Commission, councils could cut annual emissions by 5.5m tonnes by making their own buildings and fleets carbon neutral.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg, argues the report, which says authorities are in an influential position when it comes to persuading the public to do their bit too.

By working with local people, businesses and public and voluntary organisations, it claims, councils could lead the way on reductions of 150m tonnes of CO2 per year.

This equates to a third of the total reductions needed to meet central government’s self-imposed targets.

The Commission’s report is the first authoritative investigation into how well councils are doing in their duty to help reduce the effects of, and combat, global warming.

It finds that some councils are at the frontline in tackling climate change but also found that many councils still have to put appropriate strategies and action plans in place.

Chairman of the ICCC, Prof John Chesshire, said: “There are some outstanding examples of local council leadership and this report reveals that momentum is now building more widely.

“But many councils still have to put in place appropriate strategies and action plans. Few have systematically built carbon reduction and resilience to climate change into their organisational DNA. A more consistent, authority-wide, response is now required.

“Individual councils cannot opt out of tackling climate change. Councils face challenging financial conditions with tough decisions about what services they can afford to invest in, but these pressures cannot be an alibi for inaction. People are entitled to expect council leadership and action on climate change.”

The report looks at four key areas where councils can make the biggest impact.

These are transport, planning, housing and the tendering and procurement process.

Sam Bond

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