Local leaders want powers to deliver Net Zero

Mayors and local leaders from across party lines have called for a ‘Power Shift’ from Whitehall so that local and regional authorities can deliver Net Zero.
A joint communiqué signed by 32 leaders seeks urgent policy changes that would help devolve action on climate, including:
• A new Net Zero Local Powers Bill to cement new powers for local and regional authorities alongside new reporting requirements on emissions.
• Setting up strategic energy bodies or similar mechanisms to address market failure in energy systems, with a duty to co-operate between public bodies and the companies that run our energy infrastructure.
• A clear long-term plan and resources for decarbonising new and existing buildings,
• Ensuring the new UK Infrastructure Bank has a Net Zero mandate to deliver local investment in Net Zero projects
• Reducing the cost of connecting electric vehicle charging networks to the grid
The call for ‘strategic energy bodies (or similar mechanisms) to address market failure’ would ensure a duty of collaboration between public bodies with responsibilities around waste, transport and planning – like local councils – and distribution network operators (DNOs).
The group of leaders highlighted initiatives including a collaborative approach to energy systems, distribution and management in the West Midlands which resulted in ‘Net Zero Pathfinder’ proposals recently submitted to government and successful trials of Local Area Energy Planning in Newcastle, Bridgend and Manchester which have highlighted the benefits of tailoring to local conditions.
Polly Billington, chief executive of UK100, said: “We need a power shift from central government to local communities to tackle climate change. Local leaders are more trusted, more accountable and in the case of the UK100 – more ambitious in accelerating the path to Net Zero.” The local leaders say initiatives like building retrofit offers a ‘triple win’ of emissions reductions, reductions in fuel poverty and new jobs. UK100 says a “retrofit army” of nearly half a million workers will be needed to help meet the government’s objective of becoming Net Zero by 2050.
Alok Sharma, President-Designate of COP26, will tell the conference: “The Paris Agreement is a treaty between countries. To put it into effect, we need local government on board. That’s why cities are vital to COP26 – the most important climate conference for some years. We must halve global emissions by 2030 and that means taking action now.
“COP26 must be the moment that every country and every part of society embraces the responsibility to protect our precious planet. Local action is absolutely vital – generating over 70% of the world’s carbon emissions, cities will determine whether we can achieve Net Zero.
“We’re urging all cities and regions to join the Race to Zero – the United Nations campaign to reach Net Zero by 2050 at the latest. I’m proud that cities and councils from all over the United Kingdom have signed up from Newcastle to Nottingham from Cambridge to Cornwall and of course, the West Midlands.”
Cllr Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “It is cities and local leaders that are pushing to not only address the climate emergency; but reshape our economy to put people and the sustainability of their jobs, homes and communities first.
“We’re happy to play that role but, to succeed, we need the right tools – powers and resources that, right now, are held too far away from where they can be effective.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Local leaders need the powers to tackle the climate emergency. Working with other UK100 members, we have a bold ambition to make West Yorkshire a net-zero carbon economy by 2038, with significant progress by 2030. We’re up for the challenge, but we need a new devolution settlement before the climate change summit in Glasgow in November.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “We were the first combined authority in the country to declare a climate emergency, have ambitious plans to double the number of green jobs in our region and be Net Zero by at least a decade ahead of national targets. We are also working on a world-leading scheme to harness the power of the River Mersey to provide enough clean, predictable energy to power 1 million homes.”
Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “The communiqué we’ve signed calls for giving local authorities the power and resources to decarbonise new and existing buildings and homes. We’ve achieved a lot in Cambridgeshire already and our Swaffham Prior project will move an entire village from gas to renewable power, but we need more support in order to scale up our investment in decarbonisation to ensure all our villages, towns and cities can do the same.”
Cllr Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff City Council, said: “Cities are critical in the race to Net Zero. We are prepared to do our bit by accelerating our ambition to meet the climate change challenge head on. One Planet Cardiff is the Council’s vision for a carbon neutral city and organisation by 2030, and is our strategic response to our declared Climate Emergency.
… “We have already started by reducing our citywide per capita emissions by 47% and absolute emissions by 39% since 2005. But we need new powers and resources from central government to go further so that every community and every member of society can play our part in protecting our planet.”
Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty, Leader, Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “It’s clear that in the UK it is local councils, cities and regions which are leading the way on climate action. We will be able to go so much further, and so much faster when this is recognised and properly resourced. And this is precisely what this important report argues from UK100.”

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