The United States has come under new management at a crucial time in world history – what could be the turning point in the fight against climate change.
President Joe Biden has already shown more leadership in a week than we saw from his predecessor in four years: the US is again committed to the Paris Climate Change agreement, and Biden has put climate change firmly back on the agenda.
The UK has the same urgent need for a plan that has tackling climate change at its core – and local government must be at the heart of the response.
Among the myriad lessons the Government should learn from its disastrous response to coronavirus, the most important might be that Whitehall is simply not equipped to tackle big challenges at scale and speed.
“Local action led by local government is the answer to a global problem”
If they’d listened to, worked with and empowered local councils on test and trace, shielding, and self-isolation schemes, we’d have made a huge difference.
The same will be true of our fight against climate change.
Local councils have been doing brilliant work on reducing carbon use locally, but with little to no support from government.
We desperately need ministers to empower local councils, by supporting the work we’re already doing and giving us the tools and resources we’re asking for to support the transition to a lower-carbon future.
If the Government worked with councils, rather than dreaming up unworkable and bureaucratic national schemes and outsourcing failure – as it has with the stuttering Green Homes Grant scheme – we could put the UK at the forefront of solving the problem.
The UK is hosting the 2021 G7 Summit in June and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November. We can join President Biden in leading other progressive nations and build the response to the climate change disaster that is desperately needed.
There is no time to waste, but we can’t do it alone. Let’s hope that on climate change – the greatest threat to humanity – we recognise that local action led by local government is the answer to a global problem.