Wera Hobhouse MP: Local Government should be at the heart of the transition to Net Zero

'More than half of the emissions cuts needed rely on people and businesses taking up low-carbon solutions - solutions around buildings, energy and transport - decisions that are made at a local and individual level.'

Net Zero

Local government holds the key to tackling climate change but local government must be empowered to take a leading role. We need an urgent action plan to tackle the climate crisis: we simply cannot sit and wait for COP27 and then COP28 after that. Our planet is burning and millions of lives are at risk as a result.

I am concerned about the Government’s progress towards net zero, with our action not matching the level of ambition set out by the Conservatives at COP26.

A couple of weeks ago at Spring Conference, the Liberal Democrats committed to empowering local government and called for more powers to local authorities to provide stronger climate action. The motion also called for a framework to delineate the climate responsibilities of local and central government. Additionally, the motion called on the Government to provide a long-term plan to fund local authority climate action.

It is obvious that local government should be a key part of the transition to net zero. UK100 have said that to enable local government to play its part and unlock the benefits of climate action in communities, it must be given more powers and more resources.

More than half of the emissions cuts needed rely on people and businesses taking up low-carbon solutions – solutions around buildings, energy and transport – decisions that are made at a local and individual level.

This empowerment must be achieved both politically and financially with adequate funding and a voice on the national stage.

To effect the changes we urgently need, local authorities must embed zero carbon approaches to managing, funding, procuring, commissioning and delivering services but they need sufficient resources to do this.

Many of the urgent decisions are local. Decarbonising buildings, transport, waste, industry, cutting emissions from agriculture and increasing carbon sinks through land use and forestry are dependent on delivery at a local level.

A number of our councils own large housing stock which councils can help to insulate, adopt non-fossil-fuel sources or heat and power as well as to reduce and recycle waste products safely and efficiently.

Over half of the emissions cuts needed rely on people and businesses taking up low-carbon solutions – solutions around buildings, energy and transport – decisions that are made at a local and individual level.

At Spring Conference, the Liberal Democrats committed to empowering local government, calling for more powers to local authorities to provide stronger climate action. The Government must take note and announce adequate funding in the spending review.

Having hosted COP26, we as a party are holding the Government to account both on the commitments they made there and the missing commitments needed to get to net zero.

As Liberal Democrats, we believe that local authorities are key to action. We have a strong and proud tradition in local government with over 2600 councillors across the UK.

COP27 will be hosted in December 2022 in Egypt, with the UK set to update its Paris Agreement pledge (Nationally Determined Contribution) before then.

I’m pleased that the Liberal Democrats passed this motion at our Spring conference, and reiterated our commitment to empowering local authorities. 

Local government holds the key to achieving net zero. That is why I supported this motion.

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