UK Government urged to support local leaders in reaching net-zero

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UK Government urged to support local leaders in reaching net-zero

Political representatives have suggested the government needs to provide local leaders with the necessary investment and resources to reach net-zero. Rokhsana Fiaz, the first woman to be elected as the mayor of London Borough, believes the desire to achieve net-zero in her council is very high, but further support is needed to enable local leaders to reach this target.

While the government has committed to new climate targets, further action is needed to support local councils nationwide. Research by UK100, an organisation for local leaders pledging to switch to 100% clean energy by 2050 found that 2.7 million green jobs can be generated with sufficient public investment.

The Guardian contacted several political leaders across the nation and discovered that most are requesting additional government funding and resources to enable their communities to reach net zero. In some cases, authorities have the ambition that goes beyond the goals of the national government and has set their targets earlier.

One political representative believes the quickest way for the government to reach net-zero targets is allocating funds and power to individual authorities. These local leaders understand and know how to implement new measures effectively in their region. Matching the level of energy and ambition in local communities will enable further progress towards net-zero. Funding reductions will ultimately make it more challenging for local authorities to reach their goals on climate and sustainability.

The pandemic has affected available funding and placed further pressure on local authorities to implement measures that work towards net zero. Many local representatives have ambitious plans for their communities and believe the transition towards a green economy is vital for their ongoing success. 

Analysts predict that the low carbon economy will grow significantly faster than the rest of the economy over the coming years, providing several new opportunities. Reskilling will be a vital element of this transition, including retraining and reskilling professionals for the future.

Bristol mayor, Marvin Rees, has called for further powers for local authorities to allow for a local transition and ensure that national groups incorporate local into their energy transition plans. His region has a diverse range of jobs in renewables, waste management and engineering. The One City Climate Strategy includes a target to decarbonise Bristol and generate 10,000 jobs, which requires an estimated value of over £9 billion.

Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, believes that the government must ensure cities and regions across the nation have the powers and funding to support national emission reduction targets and deliver the measures required in their local areas. Khan recently announced the Green New Deal Fund for London, highlighting that climate action will motivate economic recovery, create a fairer London and increase job development for the future.

Over 30 council leaders across the country recently collaborated on a UK100 statement that urged further support for local and regional authorities in transitioning to net zero in sectors such as energy, transport and the built environment. An additional 60 leaders signed another agreement to accelerate the net-zero commitment and move faster than the central government targets.

Local leaders believe the scale of investment provided at present is inadequate if we measure the threats and challenges faced and the potential benefits of further action. The climate crisis represents an even more acute threat than Covid, and we are running out of time to implement decisive action. The pandemic incorporates an economic and health challenge and should be considered as an opportunity to drive significant change, rather than returning to standard practice and business as usual activities. The green investment will generate new jobs and drive the economy while ensuring the public spending required in the coming years will transform into long term benefits for the public.

 

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