Two-thirds of councils doubt UK government’s net zero strategy

The government’s net zero strategy is “in doubt” with two-thirds of councils saying they are not confident in hitting their net zero target.

A survey conducted on behalf of the Local Government Association (LGA) found that a “bureaucratic” bidding system for short-term funding contracts is hampering efforts to reach net zero.

The survey revealed nine in 10 councils do not think there is a sufficient financing plan in place to deliver net zero by 2050.

The national membership body for local authorities in England and Wales also found that one in four councils are generally unsuccessful in bidding for net zero funds.

It showed 60% of councils have been dissuaded from bidding into a government fund due to the time and resources needed to write bids. While 83% are concerned about an excessive bureaucratic burden associated with national funding pots.

The UK has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Net zero means a country takes as much of these planet-warming gases – such as carbon dioxide – out of the atmosphere as it puts in.

The UK has been relatively successful in cutting its emissions so far. But the government’s independent advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), have voiced concerns that the UK might miss its targets;

The LGA says councils want to lead local climate action to cut carbon and bring benefits for economies, health, and public services.

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This includes emissions from its own operations, such as industrial and non-industrial sites.

As examples, councils want to install rooftop solar panels to cut bills, revitalise green spaces and electrify transport to clean up toxic air, and promote safer walking and cycling for all, the LGA says.

The LGA is calling on all parties to back local climate action, supporting a local approach that can achieve net zero by 2050 for half the cost of the national approach and deliver three times the financial returns.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the LGA said: “Councils are leading transformative projects across the country, but their innovation is being strangled by the national approach to the transition to net zero.

“We must rise to the challenge of climate change. With an impact on over 80 per cent of emissions from their area – from transport and housing to renewable energy, government will not reach net zero without empowering councils to deliver local climate action in every village, town and city.

“With the right support, local areas could deliver net zero quicker and for less money, while boosting the local economy and ensuring local people benefit.”

Last summer, it was revealed that local authorities across England can now apply for a share of £6 million of government funding to deliver projects to improve air quality.

While just last month, it was revealed that nearly 1,000 zero-emission buses will hit the road as the government invests a fresh £143m in greener transport across England.

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