Local governments neglecting climate change, finds study

Almost three quarters of local governments have not considered the effects of climate change in their councils and seven percent are ignoring the legal Home Energy Conservation Act requirement, according to a survey carried out by the Local Government Association.

Only 16% have set a target for reducing carbon emissions, falling from a quarter of respondents recorded in 2002.

The results come ahead of next week's LGA conference at which the Energy Savings Trust (EST) will launch a practical help initiative encouraging them to sign up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change - currently only one in six authorities have signed up to this.

EST Chief Executive Philip Sellwood said: "The role of local authorities in helping to address climate change is crucial if we are going to meet challenging Government targets to reduce emissions and honour the UK's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol."

"Local authorities and housing associations own 25% of housing stock in the UK and have the power to enforce building regulations and improve the overall energy efficiency of this housing, creating cost savings as well as environmental benefits for their communities," he continued.

The findings are taken from a survey sent to local government chief executives at the end of January this year - the response rate was 54%.

A majority of the respondents - 63% - called for additional help to produce climate change emissions strategies.

"Carbon dioxide levels are at the highest for almost half a million years and rising faster than ever before," said Mr Sellwood. "Climate change is a real and immediate threat and EST is calling on all local authorities to sign up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change as a way of demonstrating their commitment to tackling these issues."

By Sorcha Clifford



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