Local leaders should ‘forge ahead’ with net zero

Local and regional leaders should forge ahead with net zero, even in the absence of central government commitment, according to Conservative MP and Net Zero Tsar, Chris Skidmore, and mayor Baron Houchen’s new The Future is Local report.

The report follows Rishi Sunak’s net zero policy announcements last week, with The Future is Local following up on Mission Zero, the UK Government-commissioned independent review of Net Zero delivery.

The report makes 31 recommendations across five themes and recommendations. These include:

  1. Introducing a local net zero charter to agree responsibilities and enhance partnership between the UK government, devolved governments and regional, city and local authorities.
  2. Hasten the adoption, consistency, and success of Local Area Energy Plans across the UK.
  3. Develop a local Net Zero Delivery Framework to enable collaboration between UK Government and local and regional authorities, using The Local Net Zero Forum.
  4. Simplify and enhance the Net Zero funding and financing landscape to support local and regional authorities with longer-term certainty,
  5. Enabling effective public-private partnerships that can unlock inward investment.
  6. Commence an urgent review in 2023, of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

Chris Skidmore OBE MP, who is also a speaker at the Transport+Energy Forum in November, said: “In too many discussions about the UK’s Net Zero commitments, the vital role of local and regional government is overlooked. Against a backdrop of wavering central government support, councils and regions are already leading the way on climate action, with many aiming to deliver Net Zero ahead of national targets.

“The Local Mission Zero Network’s first report, The Future Is Local, sets out over thirty recommendations to further the Net Zero Review’s local delivery mission. It’s clear that if central government won’t step up, it should get out of the way and allow local and regional leaders to forge ahead with their positive vision to achieve local Net Zero in partnership with communities up and down the country. Unleashing their ambition is the most effective way to harness the economic and regional growth opportunities that Net Zero can unlock.”

Christopher Hammond, the UK100 Chief Executive, said: “Chris Skidmore and Lord Houchen’s The Future Is Local report couldn’t be more timely. With the Prime Minister signalling a watering down of national Net Zero action, the ambitious local and regional authority-led climate action spotlighted in this report is only becoming more vital.

“Climate action is a responsibility that local government is ready to take on. However, with great responsibility should come great power. Or at least adequate power. Yet, at the moment, local and regional authorities are delivering despite a “kafkaesque” Net Zero regulatory framework and disjointed, short-term, competitive funding. Net Zero offers so much local and regional economic growth potential. To unleash it, Ministers need to heed the recommendations in this report and empower local authorities to lead the way. The future is local.”

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