“Joined-up” policy critical to local clean air success, report claims

A new report states joining up climate and clean air policies will be crucial to the success of local climate and clean air policies. 

The UK100 commissioned study, dubbed What (Clean Air and Net Zero) CANZ  be done?, argues learning from previous air pollution policies has not taken place. For example, when diesel vehicles were promoted as a ‘climate-friendly’ option across Europe – but without considering the air pollution impact of the fuel.

It calls on a close assessment of vehicle choices during the journey to the decarbonisation of transport – and to carefully consider which vehicles are “most beneficial overall as the UK transition away from petrol and diesel-only vehicles”.

The report also reveals that some local authorities, such as Birmingham, Camden, Hertfordshire, Leeds and Nottingham are leading the way in integrating climate and clean air policies. 

“Wider progress is being hampered by the government’s lack of a coherent national strategy, disjointed short-term funding and a refusal to recognise the importance of CANZ. Local leaders are ready to support the government to maximise the win-wins of an approach to vital clean air and Net Zero action that offers more than the sum of its parts.” Interim CEO of UK100, Jason Torrance

But it called on central government to ‘recognise the importance’ of joined-up policy in the area going forward. Case studies on how the councils took action are also included, and will be sent directly to Defra with a plea to engage on the issue.

Graphic: Percentage of LAs integrating clean air and net zero

A meeting with ministers to discuss how local leaders can be empowered on policy, from Clean Air Zones to region-wide collaboration, has also been requested.

Alongside policies on warmer homes and tree planting, the report also calls on local communities being able to make “informed choices” through more data transparency and access. It also calls for a statutory duty to act and report on progress across Clean Air and Net Zero. 

Interim Chief Executive of UK100, Jason Torrance, said: “Aligning Clean air and Net Zero (CANZ) isn’t pie in the sky — local authority leaders from Birmingham to Wiltshire are already taking ambitious and joined-up action to great effect.”

Matthew Clark, Programme Manager of Air Quality at Hertfordshire Council Council, said: “Linking activity on Clean Air and Net Zero can help drive your officers together, your politicians together, and your communities together over action which is bigger than the sum of its parts.”

Discussing the introduction of a single cabinet role with dual responsibility for clean air and Net Zero, Polly Cook, Chief Officer, Sustainable Energy and Air Quality at Leeds City Council, said: “The benefit we’ve got from our structure is having a wide team who have a really deep understanding of the two issues – so when people are working on specific projects they can understand the implications for both.”

Image from Shutterstock

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