Today’s report from CLG Strengthening local democracy marks a significant turnaround for UK climate change policy. Among a wealth of proposals on local accountability and democracy, the government is seeking ideas for new powers for local government to tackle climate change.
CLG’s report makes it clear that more needs to be done to incentivise local authorities to be at the forefront of this issue, in particular through local carbon budgets. They want to build on the ideas and experience of LGiU’s voluntary carbon trading work, Carbon Trading Councils, to develop a way of driving ambitious councils to reduce their emissions. An idea we have been exploring with our work on community carbon trading and moving forward with Carbon Trading Public Sector.
But there are already a plethora of declarations, national indicators and strategies on climate change. Why local carbon budgets as well?
Currently we have national carbon budgets to provide a routemap to the 80% reduction in carbon emission by 2050. Only councils have the understanding of local patterns of carbon emissions as they relate to economic and social progress in their area. A local carbon budget could include all the community’s emissions, from households to agriculture, allowing councils to influence the behaviour of communities whilst being locally accountable.
However, it is crucial that any new framework of local carbon budgets also gives councils the ability to influence emissions reduction. Councils can take the lead, but they cannot deliver the degree of change needed alone.
Over the next couple of months we will be debating these issues – let us know what powers you think councils need to take on this crucial role.