Survey highlights challenges facing councils trying to hit net zero

A new Local Government Association survey of council climate change officers has highlighted the significant challenges local authorities face in achieving their Net Zero targets due to insufficient powers, funding and support.

The survey found that 67% of councils lack confidence in meeting their Net Zero goals within the stated timelines, while 90% reported that current national funding schemes were inadequate to fund their local Net Zero strategies.

The survey’s release coincides with the Government’s response to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee inquiry into local authority financial sustainability, which concluded that councils face an estimated £4 billion funding gap.

In response to these findings, Christopher Hammond, Chief Executive of UK100 and a former council leader, says:

“This survey joins the growing evidence base showing the difficulties local authorities encounter in driving Net Zero with one hand tied behind their back. Local leaders are the key to accelerating climate action from delivering local energy to retrofitting and building warmer homes, but they are being held-back by short-term funding and disjointed powers.

“The quickest, cheapest and fairest route to Net Zero is through local authorities. As analysis has shown, local-led action could save the UK £140 billion in reaching Net Zero compared to a top-down approach, while delivering almost double the energy savings and social benefits. The ambition is there but it is only by ensuring local authorities are empowered and resourced that we achieve our national climate goals while realising the full economic and social potential of Net Zero in every community.”

UK100 recently published its flagship Powers in Place report calling on the government to:

  • Move Net Zero funding to multi-year place-based grants to crowd in private investment and allow authorities to plan for the long term, and; 
  • Create a new Local Net Zero Delivery Authority to coordinate local-national Net Zero collaboration and ensure a statutory role for local authorities in the transition.

As in previous years, Transport + Energy will be offering a number of fully funded places to representatives from local authorities who are in a role which is focused on the decarbonisation of transport, including energy, infrastructure, planning and highways at its upcoming Transport + Energy Forum.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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