One-third of UK population represented by local authority net-zero commitments

Five more UK councils have joined a 'net-zero pledge', meaning that one-third of the UK population is now represented by councils aiming to reach net-zero emissions at least five years ahead of Central Government's 2050 commitment.

One-third of UK population represented by local authority net-zero commitments


The UK100 has confirmed that council leaders at Warwick District Council, London Borough of Lambeth, St Albans City and District Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and Hammersmith & Fulham Council have joined the Net-Zero Pledge initiative.

These councils join 52 other local authorities in pledging to set net-zero targets ahead of the Government’s deadline. UK100’s ‘Net Zero Pledge’ explicitly commits them to neutralise council emissions by 2030 and those of their residents and businesses by 2045.

Collectively, the 57 local authorities represent more than 35% of the UK population and 28% of England’s land area.

Commenting on the new cohort of pledgees, former Southampton City Council Leader Cllr and UK100’s new network membership director Christopher Hammond said: “The fundamental challenge of our time is getting to net-zero carbon emissions and averting climate breakdown.

“It’s a task that will need bold leadership, legislative clarity, shifts in culture and behaviours, willingness to make mistakes and enthusiastic adoption of new technologies. I know from my time leading a city council that local government is uniquely placed to face and overcome these challenges.”

Late last year, UK100 confirmed that cities including Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Oxford, London, Bath, Bristol, Plymouth Newcastle and Nottingham had signed up, as well as the local authorities representing Cornwall, the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire and the West Midlands.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan brought the Greater London Authority’s net-zero deadline forward from 2050 to 2035, for example. Nottingham City Council is targeting net-zero for its own operations by 2028. For Manchester, the aim is net-zero for the city-region by 2038. Bristol and Newcastle are both striving for net-zero communities within a decade.

Oxford City Council announced that it has helped the city-region to reduce absolute emissions by 40% since 2005, putting it on track to meet its own 2030 climate targets.

However, 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

Comments (1)

  1. Ian Byrne says:

    If 36% are not confident of meeting their public commitments, I suspect that 64% are deluding themselves! Yes, it’s possible in most cases, although some of the earlier dates would practically be impossible starting from where they are, but if I were responsible for meeting the target I would have very little confidence that it could be achieved without massive support from central Government and bodies such as Ofgem.

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