Local authorities have a crucial role in helping the UK reach its ambitious carbon emissions targets – 17 May 2012

Local authorities have a crucial role to play in contributing to emissions reductions and helping the UK meet its carbon targets, according to a new report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). If action is not increased at a local level, the CCC says it could put the targets at risk.

The report, which has been commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), recommends that the government should introduce a statutory duty on local authorities to develop carbon plans and/ or that funding support for local measures is increased.

Committee member Professor Julia King said:

“The research we’ve done shows local authorities have the potential to significantly impact on the UK’s scale and speed of emissions reductions. There is a wealth of good work being done already at local and regional levels but many opportunities remain untapped.  It is essential that these opportunities are delivered if we are to meet our national carbon targets.

“We are therefore asking both local and national government to address these issues. Local authorities need to show leadership and recognise their wider role in supporting local emissions reductions. The government needs to strengthen incentives for action by providing national funding where required and should consider introducing a statutory duty for area-wide, low-carbon, plans.”

The report also identifies that carbon reduction programmes could bring a range of benefits to local communities in the form of reduced energy bills, economic regeneration and jobs, and improved health.

The CCC has highlighted specific opportunities within the buildings, transport and waste sectors which account for 40% of total UK emissions. Suggestions include promoting reduced energy consumption among residents and businesses; enhancing public transport and promoting sustainable travel, plus investment in green vehicles; reducing the overall levels of waste through behaviour change and improved collection and recycling.

Emissions in these sectors could be reduced by 20% in 2020 relative to 2010 levels if the measures set out in the report are followed through.