Government will struggle to achieve 2050 target unless they engage with local councils, warns report

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The UK will struggle to reach the net zero target by 2050 unless Government steps up efforts to work together with local councils on climate action in areas such as housing and planning, low-carbon heating and energy efficiency, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee states in a new report.

The report recommends the Government immediately begin working with local government on a net zero delivery framework which sets out the roles and responsibilities of local and central government and clarifies the critical role of local councils in delivering a just transition for their local communities.

On funding, the report notes that the new Net Zero strategy includes ‘no clear commitment’ to increasing the level of long-term funding specifically for local authority climate action.

The report recommends the Government come forward with a long-term funding plan for local authority climate action.

Clive Betts, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, commented on the findings: “Local councils will have a critical role to play in efforts to achieve the 2050 ‘net zero’ target, building public confidence in climate action, and ensuring a just transition.

“From low carbon housing standards, energy efficiency and retrofitting existing housing stock to planning, transport and active travel, local councils have influence over a wide range of areas for potential emissions reductions.

“The Government must learn the lessons of past failed nationally delivered ‘green’ schemes. Schemes should be delivered in partnership with local councils who are trusted by their communities and who can provide the organisation, advice and promotion which will be vital in raising people’s understanding about the changes taking place.

“Local councils have a crucial role to play in ensuring there is a just transition and winning public trust for the changes needed on the path to net zero.

“The Government needs to work with local government on producing a delivery framework to achieve net zero, clearly setting out the relative roles and responsibilities of both local and central government.

“To meet the scale of the challenge and enable local councils to make long-term decisions on behalf of their communities, the Government should also come forward with a long-term funding plan for local authority climate action.

“Moving to lower or zero emissions from new homes is important. But to reach net zero, it’s crucial that insulation is improved in existing homes and that householders are offered viable choices and incentives to replace their gas boilers and decarbonise their heating.

“The Government’s current approach, and lack of incentives to do otherwise, risks a large number of existing gas boilers simply being replaced with new gas boilers.”

The ‘Local government and the path to net zero’-report is available on the UK Parliament website.