Local authorities are signalling ambition and political commitment to net zero, though little is likely to happen without central government support, a report has warned.
On 4 September, EnergyREV published, Net zero localities: ambition and value in UK local authority investment, in which it said that local political statements are a “springboard for action” but fulfilling them calls for government support in the shape of new policy, powers and resources. It further stressed net zero carbon localities have untapped economic potential, drawing on how in Edinburgh, a £4bn investment could see its emissions cut by 55% on 2019 levels, which would payback over 7.5 years, delivering annual financial savings of around £553mn.
Other key messages included investing in people, skills and expertise can bring forward local net zero carbon programmes; local action needs to move beyond a project-by-project focus to systematic area-based programmes; and local authorities are key to realising societal benefits from energy efficiency retrofit, green district heating networks, public transport and EV charging infrastructure, resilient local energy systems and carbon stores in waters, forests and peatlands.
It went on to make a series of recommendations of how governments can convert local authority ambition into action, such as establishing long-term policy objectives and instruments for net zero carbon localities; institutionalising local net zero carbon planning and implementation through statutory powers and devolved resources to secure long-term benefits from investment, and to develop coordinated local and national government action; building capacity for integrated local programmes through investing in local authority net zero teams; evaluating all public expenditure against net zero principles; and using government economic and industrial strategies post-COVID to drive investment in net zero carbon localities.