Bringing together a panel of experts from across the UK and Ireland, this online briefing session debated the multifaceted challenges facing UK local governments to meet net zero.
Panellists included Chris Murray (Director, Core Cities UK), Mark Atherton (Director of Environment, Greater Manchester Combined Authority) and Anna Marie Delaney (Chief Executive, Offaly County Council).
A key theme reflected on from COP26 was a concern about how national governments seemed to overlook localities as driving forces in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Panellists agreed there is a need for more engagement in re-establishing the central role of cities in tackling climate change and meeting Paris agreement targets. Considering the ‘heavy lifting’ takes place locally, local authorities are best placed to reach communities and engage citizens in reaching net zero.
Financing net zero is beyond the capability of the public sector. In addition, the lack of financial capacity at local level in the UK to reach net zero targets was a key topic of discussion. Some of the challenges identified were the lack of decentralisation and revenue capacity of local authorities to effectively decarbonise their economies, and the potential consequences of this for affordability – to both businesses and residents.
When asked what local government should be doing more of, one important suggestion was locating potential transferable net zero projects already happening in other cities globally, to enhance collaboration and fully understand how the transition to net zero might look.
This event was held in partnership with the Local Government Information Unit.