Time to go faster on hitting net zero

Rampant wildfires in America; hundreds killed by extreme floods in Germany and China; and here, in the UK, the Met Office issued its first ever extreme heat warning. 

If we needed any reminder why the Government’s pathetic target of hitting net zero by 2050 lacks the necessary speed and ambition, the past few weeks have really delivered. 

Local government wants to go faster: more than two-thirds of councils have said they want to hit net zero by 2030. 

“We need a power shift from central government to local communities to tackle climate change”

We need a power shift from central government to local communities to tackle climate change. Local leaders are more trusted, more accountable, and more ambitious in accelerating the path to net zero. 

The LGA’s ‘Build back local’ publication sets out how councils are fundamental to transitioning our places and empowering our communities and businesses to a net-zero future. A clear national climate change framework that enables local councils and their partners to deliver on the ground can help the country move forward into a greener future. 

Councils are also well placed to deliver transformative action on the ground, but we need powers to lead. Cities and towns can’t reach net zero alone; we need help from national and international leaders to turn climate plans into climate reality. 

That’s why, in July, I joined dozens of other council leaders and mayors from UK100 to call for new powers and resources to be devolved from Whitehall, so that we can lead in shaping local energy markets, decarbonising transport, and tackling emissions from homes and offices. 

Time really is running out to tackle the root cause of global warming. The International Net Zero Local Leadership Summit that UK100 held in July has been compared with the Paris City Hall Declaration in 2015, which paved the way for the Paris Climate Agreement at COP21.

Let’s hope that the work of the LGA and UK100 demonstrates to our national leaders that the clock is ticking, and COP26 proves a genuine step forward in meeting this global challenge.

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