To date 230 councils in the UK have declared a climate emergency but their efforts are being hamstrung by difficulties with monitoring and implementing their policies, the LGA says. As LGC has previously reported many of these councils have set targets to be carbon neutral between 2030 to 2050. Central government has set a target of 2050 for the country to be carbon neutral.
It highlights air quality, an area in which councils do not have full control as some roads are operated by Highways England, which limits their ability to take action.
It says that councils are still having to navigate overly complex bureaucracy to access funding from more than a dozen different Whitehall departments, pointing to recent LGA research which suggests that between 2015 and 2017 more than 300 separate grants were handed out from national government to councils, with more than a third being for £10m or less.
In response to the challenges, the LGA has offered to set up a joint national taskforce made up of local leaders and government departments.
It would determine the funding, legislation and policy changes needed to deliver zero net carbon emissions by 2030 and include representation from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government; the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs; the Department for Transport and the Treasury.
The LGA is also calling for the Environment Bill to be reintroduced as part of the government’s planned Queen’s Speech and for work by the proposed taskforce to include reviewing the Bill to consider any climate emergency actions needed. The bill, which was published in December 2018, sets out how the environment will be regulated after Brexit.
Other demands include moving from national growth funding pots to local ones; properly funding the concessionary bus fares scheme; permitted development rights to be scrapped and replaced with locally set planning fees; the creation of a national air quality support scheme.
“Local government cannot work alone,” said David Renard (Con), LGA environment spokesman.
“A joint national taskforce led by councils would harness the critical partnership between local and national government to coordinate and drive climate change action for the benefit of communities, the country and the planet.”