Local authorities have a crucial role to play in reducing emissions and helping the UK meet its carbon budgets targets says a new report by government advisers the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
Local authorities have significant influence over key emitting sectors, such as residential and commercial buildings, road transport and waste management. And CCC warns that without action at a local level, national carbon emission targets could be missed.
The Committee recommends the introduction of a statutory duty for local authorities to develop and implement carbon plans, and that national funding to support such programmes is increased.
Committee member Professor Julia King said: “The research we’ve done shows local authorities have the potential to significantly impact on the UK’s scale and speed of emissions reductions. There is a wealth of good work being done already at local and regional levels but many opportunities remain untapped. It is essential that these opportunities are delivered if we are to meet our national carbon targets.”
“We are therefore asking both local and national government to address these issues. Local authorities need to show leadership and recognise their wider role in supporting local emissions reductions. The government needs to strengthen incentives for action by providing national funding where required and should consider introducing a statutory duty for area-wide, low carbon plans,” she added.
Given stronger incentives, the report identifies how local authorities can support emissions reductions by using energy efficiency programmes, promoting sustainable travel options, giving planning approval to renewable energy projects and developing recycling programmes.
Such carbon reduction programmes could also bring a range of benefits to local communities such as reduced energy bills, economic regeneration and jobs, and improved health. The Committee estimate these new measures could reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent in 2020 relative to 2010 levels.
NNFCC are looking to work with more local authorities to assess their options for reducing costs, cutting waste and minimising carbon emissions through the greater use of decentralised bioenergy and anaerobic digestion to treat local authority waste. There are also significant opportunities to use sustainable biofuels in public transport and waste collection.
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Source: NNFCC, 2012-05-18.