Harriet Lamb, Ashden’s CEO says: “The Climate Change Committee have recognised that we can get our carbon footprint down in time – and meet the Sixth Carbon Budget if Government and local authorities work hand in glove.”
The CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget report features a sector summary for local authorities that emphasises the critical, though often downplayed, role of local government.
To coincide with the Sixth Carbon Budget, Ashden and other organisations have published A blueprint: Accelerating local climate action and a green recovery. The blueprint has been produced by a coalition of local authority organisations, environmental NGOs and academic institutions (The Blueprint Coalition including ADEPT, FoE and Grantham Institute and others) and backed by 100 councils. The blueprint provides 5 priorities for action.
The Blueprint coalition’s five priorities for action:
- Invest more in low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure including public transport networks and renewable energy;
- Prioritise and focus support for reskilling and retraining for green jobs so that local authorities can target training where it is needed most;
- Ensure that our homes are fit for the future, by investing more in retrofitting to high energy efficiency standards, with social housing a priority, and ensure that councils are able to require zero carbon housing in all new development;
- Make it easy for people to walk, cycle and work remotely by extending funds for active travel and enabling local authorities to permanently allocate dedicated space to walking and cycling; and
- Accelerate tree planting, peatland restoration, green spaces and other green infrastructure. This must include resourcing for local authorities to maintain existing parks, plant trees and address gaps in access to green spaces in their areas.
If enacted, this blueprint will give local authorities the powers and resources they need to ensure a fair and equitable green recovery. Read the full blueprint report here and a summary version here.
Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb says: “The low carbon transition needs us all to change how we travel, what we eat and how we heat our homes. And we will need help doing that – local authorities are close to their communities and so are best placed to help us all make those shifts. Government must now provide councils with the support and investment they need to deliver these climate ambitions and support communities.
“The coronavirus pandemic showed the key role of local responses – so let’s learn those lessons. Over 75% of councils having declared a climate emergency and are ready to play their part in meeting the country’s carbon budget, and delivering the wider benefits for their communities including clean and safe streets, warmer homes and better jobs.”
The Sixth Carbon Report is also relevant to public buildings, including schools. The Let’s Go Zero schools campaign launched last month, spearheaded by Ashden with a coalition of organisations working on sustainability in schools, has shown there is huge enthusiasm from schools to decarbonise quickly. Over 100 schools have signed up to the campaign in less than a month, all pledging to support each other on the journey to zero carbon by 2030.
The Sixth Carbon budget refers to changes in buildings, food and travel – all areas where schools can make significant changes.
Ms Lamb says: “We are delighted that the Climate Change Committee lays out pathways to reduce the carbon footprint of schools, with a target to bring schools to reach zero carbon by 2030 and investment for all schools to reach zero carbon by the same date. We hope the UK government will support schools to plan their pathways across their buildings, food and travel. Schools are ready to be leaders in climate solutions for the young people they educate and the communities they influence.”
“The Committee has recognised that people will be at the heart of climate action necessary to achieve carbon budgets. Local government and schools will play essential roles in bringing communities with us on the low carbon transition. The Committee recognises that the Government investing in infrastructure now will save funds later – as well as meeting our targets to reduce carbon.”